The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) says its members within the Amuwo Odofin and Kirikiri industrial zones lose N20 billion annually to poor infrastructure.
At a recently held stakeholders’ forum in Lagos, Frank Onyebu, chairman, MAN, Apapa branch, said beyond the challenges of dilapidated roads, poor power supply, multiple taxation, and security challenges, manufacturers, especially those within the Amuwo Odofin and Kirikiri industrial areas, are faced with additional challenges of access to their factories owing to the invasion of trailers and other articulated vehicles into the industrial areas.
Onyebu, while speaking at the 10th edition of the business luncheon organised by the association, said the precarious situation has brought about most factories accumulating large stocks of unsold inventories since customers no longer have access to the affected factories.
“Overall, it is estimated that over N20 billion is lost annually by manufacturers within the Amuwo Odofin and Kirikiri industrial zones as a result of dilapidated infrastructure and this is not good for a nation that wants to open up its economy to trade with others in the continent,” he said.
He predicted challenges ahead of the resumption of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), saying that the trade treaty could have a negative impact on local businesses and the economy at large.
According to the association, Nigeria would need to fix several structural challenges and infrastructural bottlenecks for it to enjoy the $3trillion market that the AfCFTA presents, otherwise it would be at the losing end.
Onyebu who addressed stakeholders on the theme ‘Repositioning the Nigerian Manufacturing Sector to cope with Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCFT),’ explained that some members have, in desperation, turned to using barges/pontoons to ferry customers’ trucks in order to sell their inventories.
Nigeria had, in July this year, joined 53 other African countries in signing onto a trade agreement that will see it open its economy to free trade on virtually 90 percent of its imports.
With the trade pact, Nigeria alongside other parties to the agreement would be open to an estimated $3 trillion market with trade among 1.2 billion people. While the agreement is expected to come with several benefits, stakeholders have raised concern on the possibility of Nigeria losing big to other smaller African nations in the deal given its huge infrastructural deficit.
In order for Nigeria to benefit from the African trade agreement, MAN highlighted several recommendations that must be looked into by the government.
“Normally trade amongst African nations should be a welcome development, and this has always existed informally. However, for Nigeria to maximally tap the benefits of the AFCFTA, she must urgently address the current infrastructural as well as other challenges,” Onyebu further said.
He noted that the menace of trailers and other articulated vehicles must be given the urgent attention it deserves with the government working alongside manufactures and other stakeholders to improve the ease of doing business by finding ways of clearing access roads to the ports as well as the industrial areas.
“Our security operatives (Customs, Immigration and other security agencies) need to wake up to their responsibilities in checking sharp practices at our borders while working to improve the efficiency of our port operations,” Onyebu recommended.
He tasked manufacturers to make necessary changes in the face of a fast-changing world. “I have no doubt that Nigerian manufacturers will beat the odds so long as the government plays its part by eliminating the cankerworm of corruption in the system,” he added.