Nigeria has everything it needs to be become the new China and thus a global manufacturing hub. This declaration comes from a seasoned electrical and electronic engineer and technologist, Giandomenico Massari.
The Italy-born naturalized Nigerian with 45 massive years in the profession is also a manufacturer.
Massari, a fellow of both electrical and electronic engineering professions with a doctorate degree in view, said manufacturing is the backbone of any respected economy.
In an exclusive interview with BD Sunday in his Trans-Amadi, Port Harcourt headquarters, Massari argued that any developed country that most nations admire has manufacturing as backbone of its economy. “This is supposed to be so with Nigeria that has all sorts of resources, from agricultural resources to minerals.”
He went on to declare that Nigerian can even become a global hub in manufacturing; a place investors can manufacture anything at cheap cost to create competitive products for both export and for the local market. “This will bring benefits to the country not only by creating jobs but by creating values and foreign exchange (forex) that would be pouring into the country. By this, you are enriching the economy and the people. There should be an advocacy in this and all should rally round MAN as a major backbone for the economy.”
Massari warned about the danger of ignoring dumping. “Nigeria should not be allowed to become a dumping ground for inferior and substandard products. This is the easiest way to destroy any economy and to kill jobs.”
He said few persons gain in a dumped economy but majority suffers; loss of jobs, forex crisis, inflation, crime and instability. “Nigeria has been inundated with sub-standard products that do not add value to the economy.
“We need an economy that produces almost everything that is imported and in high quality. Nigeria already has high quality in some products, it means Nigeria can produce high quality in almost every product.”
He said the country should target being an exporting nation and should target how to replicate what is happening in China because Nigeria has all the potentials especially in labour and other resources.
To do this, he stated, “All stakeholders must work for same goal. It is not good for private interests to sabotage this path and divert the gains. This is where change must be targeted, creating public interest instead of private interest.
“There is need to sanitise things and boost manufacturing in Nigeria. This is not happening at the moment.’
Why he is in MAN
Explaining his mission in the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) since 1997, the versatile expert said; “My reason to participate in the affairs of MAN is to boost the body that caters for manufacturers and to support it to boost manufacturing.
“The objective is to strive to manufacture high quality products and make sure that all the systems involved in manufacturing are protected and developed.”
He said MAN as the umbrella body of all manufacturers and is the foremost body for the sector. “We thus chose to join MAN as the best way to carry out that role, not only for our company but for the benefits of manufacturing in Nigeria because when the benefits spread around Nigeria, it will touch everybody.”
Massari said he participated fully in the Rivers/Bayelsa chapter, and also in the Council for many years. In 2011, he was nominated and elected into MAN’s national Council, he stated.
In 2017, he went on, he was nominated and elected as the acting chairman of the Akwa Ibom/Cross River chapter and eventually elevated to chairman. “In fact, it was a branch that was failing completely and it was considered to be merged with the Rivers/Bayelsa chapter. Danelec FZE was a member of that branch. We have thus tried to revive the branch. Now, it has many more members. The mandate is four years but I was asked to stay one extra year to complete the turnaround.”
He was approached and thus nominated to be National Vice President (East). He thinks the task is not out of place. “It is ok, it is a very big responsibility, but I keep saying it is not the job or task for one person but for all of us. The zone involves all the states in the South East (Imo/Abia chapter, Anambra/Enugu/Ebonyi chapter) and some states in the South-South including Rivers/Bayelsa chapter, and Akwa Ibom/Cross River chapter.
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“I thus see myself as a coordinator that must carry everybody along. It requires us to work together to tackle all the challenges and problems. Together we must make all efforts to overcome the challenges. It is not one person’s duty. My task is to involve everybody and make each person feel part of the task and make sure that we can solve the problems. Yes, it is a very big task.”
It now makes him to be busy in two fronts; “At the same time, I am in the national team, so it is my duty to manage the zone and play seriously in the national team. There must be no discrimination in where you come from but all hands must be on deck to tackle the problems.
“When the team is larger, you forge into a very strong lobby group to overtake and solve the problems. There is a lot of work to do. We are also trying to strengthen the office of the Vice President to make serious impacts that can tackle the many challenges. This is not for the sake of the person on seat for now but for a better structure that solves problems.”
What FG can do
Would Massari accept to help the FG understand what needs to be done step by step to reach the target as Massari mentioned? His answer; “The most important thing is to create a win-win situation. Make sure that all the stakeholders: manufacturer, workers, government, everybody involved (many actors exist) must make sure that there is an enabled environment.”
He mentioned the number one step to be transportation of goods around the country. Tax sector must be cleaned up to create easy way to manufacturer. Then the FG must do more on tackling Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) so Nigeria can rank one of the tops. He also said capacity-building is very important because when the personnel begin to acquire skills and professional attitude to work and get certification, things will change.
“Standard is very important: The nation must create standards and fight to maintain them in each product.’
He said there are many laws and executive orders on local content and other business-related areas but there seems to be no effect. “Nigeria’s number one problem is presence of many laws but very weak implementation. There are no monitoring mechanisms to give effect to the laws. It is like there are no laws.’
Massari said unemployment is a bull wrecking havoc around the world. “It is the biggest problem in every country and this is so in Nigeria too. This causes crime, vices, arrests, rioting, etc.
“When people are gainfully engaged to look after their families, be sure that things will be different. Crime and insecurity will dramatically reduce: rioting, banditry, etc. Create jobs, use manufacturing to create jobs. It is the only thing that can spill jobs massively.”
He said capacity-building is important. “The government must strive to satisfy the domestic and foreign markets. You will attract a lot of investments. When outsiders see that your country can produce good products cheaply, believe me, they will come and establish industries.’
Massari also said that capital may not be the major problem about industrialization. “The most important task is to create confidence in your economy and watch foreign direct investment (FDI) flow in. It will create a win-win situation.”
The internationally reputed engineer is now in charge of MAN East. He said: “My duty is to carry all the chairmen along. They are the voice of their chapters. Together, we start pushing to the headquarters that will push to the FG and to every relevant body that has a duty to play in boosting manufacturing.”
Database, his first shot
Massari says data is everything in the world of business and planning today. “My first task is to build a database of members; what they do, what they can produce, the certifications they have, etc. I have made it clear that this is what I want to start with. This is what investors want to look at to know what to support or where to invest or who to partner with. It is a lot of job to accomplish but let us start first.”
With knowledge, expertise and enthusiasm flowing from him, many may wonder what would happen if state governments can think manufacturing/industrialization and make it their cardinal targets; whether the zone would become the propelling zones for this industrial revolution. To get this off the steam, many wonder whether Masari would be prepared to organize an industry clinic for either the present or incoming governors, hoping they would find tips to boost productivity from Massari’s gripping message.
The Italy-born technologist is ready. “I said it is about stakeholdership to build a rallying point for change. When I was chairman in Akwa Ibom/Cross River chapter, we tried to network with the governments, sometimes successfully.
“We continue to try to make governments make friendly policies for manufacturing and for operations. It could be about patronizing local products.”
He said one governor sometime ago was instrumental in boosting manufacturing in Anambra State “(I do not want to mention names). His administration started assisting industries there by providing infrastructure, buying their products, providing single digit loans that were later repaid, did Ease of Doing Business (EODB) policies, etc. Manufacturing increased exponentially. This was about understanding the potentials of manufacturing because of the value it brings; jobs, taxes, wealth, reduction of crime, etc. We need to see a leader in Government that can see this and think this way.
“Yes, I plan to take my team of state chairmen of MAN to visit the state governments in the zone to stress these points and to seek partnerships and make sure that the benefits from such situations were understood.
“If the state governors understand the criticality of manufacturing and what they should do to cause it happen, they would be the enthusiastic drivers. Everybody will be the winner. That is the only way, otherwise problems.”
Knowing Massari deeper
Masari, a fellow of many engineering professions, lives in Port Harcourt but he last headed the Akwa-Ibom/Cross River MAN before moving up to represent the entire south-south and south-east.
Masari, with 45 years experience in his field, holds dual citizenship (Italian and Nigerian) and is the current General Manager of both Danelec Limited (services firm) and Danelec FZE (manufacturing).
Masari is a former National Vice President of Nigerian Society of Engineers, a former member and Council Member of Association for Consulting Engineering in Nigeria (ACEN), a former Chairman of the Institute of Appraisers and Cost Engineers, former Board Chairman Electro-Mechanical-Processing of NSE, former National Vice President of Cycling Federation of Nigeria and presently President of Cycling Federation of Nigeria and board member of Nigeria Olympic Committee.
Since 1992 he has been the General Manager of Danelec Limited, an Electrical/Electronic Engineering Company and General Manager of Danelec FZE, a Transformers and LV/MV
Switchgears Manufacturing Company.
Danelec FZE is the first indigenous manufacturing company in Nigeria for the production of Distribution/Power Transformers and LV/MV Switchgear.
The expert is regarded as a well-grounded engineer, a highly experienced corporate administrator, an accomplished researcher and a philanthropist.
The Electrical/Electronic Engineer and Information Technology expert played significant roles in the field of electrical and electronic engineering in Nigeria and abroad in several institutions.
He has been a deep player in many engineering and business trade groups in the Niger Delta.
Masari is always found in the company of technocrats and investors, always discussing strategies for business groups and investors to get ahead.
In his own modest words, he said: “I have been in Nigeria since 1992, actually in Port Harcourt. I naturalized in Nigeria in 2009, and so I am a citizen.
“I run two companies both in service and manufacturing sectors that are part of a very large group, and I am the General Manager of both of them. One is Danelec Limited which is into services while the other is Danelec FZE which is into manufacturing of MV and LV panels.
“We have full certification, nationally and internationally. For many years, we have tried to keep as much as possible very high quality in all the processes we do in manufacturing and services but particularly in manufacturing.”
Massari is a chief in Port Harcourt and is highly regarded in the communities around the area.
A room full of trophies and plagues and medals:
One in his large office will think he is in Messi’s environment going by the array of trophies, plagues and medals round the entire office. So, what other trophy was he looking up for.
“I am the president of the Cycling Federation of Nigeria. I remember when we started this, we developed the best facility that is now the best in Africa. Now, the female team is winning inside and outside Africa. This is the second time that we qualified for the World Championship. Our goal is to qualify for the 2024 Olympics.”
He wins awards regularly and in fact, has just won one of the highest awards in Rivers State personally decorated on him by Gov Nyesom Wike.
Nigeria has talents
He said Nigeria has talents all over in Cycling and all others. Nigeria’s resources are very vast. A country of over 200m people can be the true giant of Africa due to massive activities in every sector.