The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has used its first ever national council meeting held in Kano, northern Nigeria`s biggest industrial economy, to kickstart a conversation on how explore the current healthy economic relations existing between Nigeria and China to reawaken industrial activities in the country.
MAN is of the view that the near –excellent bi-lateral relationship between the two countries dating back to over five decades has matured to a point in which it should begin to yield more positive economic results, particularly for Nigeria.
How to concretise the thinking was the theme of a Roundtable Discussion entitled ‘Leveraging on China-Nigeria Economic Relations to Re-Industrialise the Economy’, held on the sidelines of the national council meeting of the association concluded in Kano, weekend.
Delivering his address, Mansur Ahmed, national president of the association, said that his 2,700- member association is promoting a conversation on the theme of the roundtable, as part of its mission to rejuvenate manufacturing activities in the country.
“As you are aware, MAN is the umbrella body of the Nigerian manufacturing sector with over 2,700 manufacturing companies in Nigeria across the sector from Small and Medium Industries, to large multinationals.
“Part of our advocacy strategies is continuous dialogue at both national and sub-national levels, so this morning `s dialogue session is in pursuance of this mandate,” he noted.
According to the MAN `s president, the theme of the roundtable is anchored on two pertinent observations, first, the slow pace of growth of industrialisation, especially, the manufacturing sector in the country as a whole.
But even more worrisome, he disclosed, was the process of de-industrialisation that is increasingly evident in some of the states.
Kano, in particular, has suffered in this regard over the past two decades during which almost half of its thriving manufacturing establishments have shut down.
Ahmed added that MAN, the government and all other stakeholders must be concerned and explore all potential strategies to arrest and reverse the de-industrialisation process in the country.
“The second observation has to do with the increasing Chinese influence on the global economy and specifically on developing countries such as ours, and the opportunity this opens up for our economy. It`s now common knowledge that China has become the 2nd largest economy in the world (GDP over $10 Trillion) and is rapidly becoming a major factor in the changing global economic order.
“In 2015, the Chinese government launched the ‘Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)’ as a global economic development strategy aimed to change the architecture of the world economy. BRI involves a $900 billion infrastructure and investment programme designed to connect over 67 countries in Europe, Asia, Middle East and Africa, to China with the goal of changing the direction of trade and investment flows.
“In September 2018, Nigeria joined the Belt and Road Initiative. The focus of the Nigeria-China MoU was mainly on infrastructure development, especially in power and transportation sectors. We are all aware that many ongoing projects in these sectors, both at the federal and state levels are indeed being financed by the Chinese.
“We are also aware that BRI also covers other areas of investment opportunities, including industrial and SMEs development, trade facilitation and human capital development. It is our desire to explore during this dialogue how the growing Nigeria –China economic relations and the BRI can be leveraged to attract more investment in our manufacturing sector and reverse the direction of de-industrialization in our country,” he explained.
Adeola Ajakaiye, in Kano