Ikechukwu Ebo, chief executive officer, Miragate Nigeria Limited, an agro-allied processing factory located at the Calabar Free Trade Zone (CFTZ), has stated that with the introduction of AFCFTA and the domestication of the African Continental Free Trade Area by Nigeria, members of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) have to scale up production to 100 percent to be able to really take advantage inherent in AFCFTA.
Speaking to BusinessDay after the 50th anniversary and cake cutting of (MAN) in Calabar, he said the treaty has increased the market frontiers of every member of the association.
According to him, the introduction of the policy is indeed a very unique opportunity for the country and MAN in particular.
“The market frontiers for our members has blossom, we have the whole of Africa as our market segment, that is like a company that is already in production , you have to scale up to 1000 percent as MAN member”, he said.
“So there is scalling up of capacity, production, market, segment, and acquisition of new technology. When these factors are put together, they will increase product acquisition, technology and indeed market. So, it is a great opportunity for government to institute policies that would encourage members to produce more”.
He noted that AFCFTA is a partnership agreement to promote trade among Africans and boosting trading in the global market with a common voice.
Also speaking, Giandomenico Massari, chairman, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Cross River and Akwa Ibom Branch, asserted that manufacturing remained the backbone of any economy.
He said although they were celebrating their 50 years of existence in the country, manufacturing in Nigeria was not yet where it ought to be.
“We are still striving to get more attention and support from the government in policies that will be favourable to manufacturing in the country and enable us move to the next level.
“The government and every citizen of Nigeria need to know that it is manufacturing that can help us create more jobs, enhance the capacity of Nigerians and bring a lot of benefits vital to the economy”, he said.
He noted that he expects that in the next few years, Nigerians should have a change of mindset that every item produced in the country was of low quality and start patronising locally manufactured goods, many of which are of very good quality.
Klinton Offiong and Usen Umoh, secretary and treasurer of the association respectively, said they have had peculiar challenges in both states which are quite surmountable only if the government intervenes.
According to Offiong, government should pay more attention to manufacturers and assist them because they help in creating large chunk of employment.
“Government at all levels should make the operating environment favourable for manufacturers by ensuing that there is a harmonised tax system where every tax payer knows what he has to pay annually and not suffer multiple taxation.
“Also the road linking Cross River and Akwa Ibom is in a very terrible state and a lot of loses are incurred by manufacturers daily on account of the deplorable state of that road, we need government assistance there too,” he maintained.
Osidipe Oluwasegun, director, research and advocacy support, MAN, said poor electricity, congestion of the port and inability to access forex as at when due have been some of the major challenges for manufacturers in the nation.
Oluwasegun noted that by the time you put all the challenges together, the capacity utilisation of any manufacturer is affected, making manufacturing more difficult.
He said in all, he was proud of the members of the association who have been resilient and are working assiduously to overcome the societal constraints.