AfCFTA: Manufacturing sector to access expanded market ― Osinbajo

The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo has said that the Nigerian manufacturing sector would gain access to expanded market following Nigeria’s signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).

Osinbajo disclosed this at the 6th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Abuja Branch of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN).

The Vice President who was represented by the MD/CEO Bank of Industry, Mr Kayode Pitan said the theme for this year’s AGM “Optimising the Long Term Interest Rate of Nigerian Development Banks for Manufacturing in Nigeria”, recognises the critical role that development banks perform in supporting and sustaining development in any economy.

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He, therefore, said, “this year in particular, with Nigeria having signed the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), our manufacturing sector will now be able to access a significantly expanded market while facing increased competition at the same time”.

He said the government would do everything within its power to support local manufacturers to achieve the required level of quality and scale in their operations to compete and thrive effectively.

“This will include addressing the following major challenges faced by our manufacturing industries: Access to finance; unfriendly business policies; Bureaucratic bottlenecks in doing business; Power and Infrastructure challenges; Smuggling”, he added.

Furthermore, Osinbajo said “With respect to access to finance, the Development Finance Institutions in the country such as the Bank of Industry and the Development Bank of Nigeria, to name a few, provide long term financing at sub-market interest rates (in BOl’s case), including moratorium opportunities to the real sector.

“These characteristics are very key to the growth of the manufacturing sector due to their need for long term financing and other favourable financing conditions.

“Despite the best efforts of these development Banks, there still remains a huge financing gap that needs to be filled to impact the industry in a profound way”.

In his remarks, the President Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Engr Mansur Ahmed urged the government to continue to create enabling environment for existing industries to thrive.

The MAN President who was represented by the Director-General of MAN, Mr Segun Ajayi, called on the governments of Nasarawa, Niger and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to establish a more effective consultative mechanism with MAN, which he said would ensure the sustenance of existing manufacturing companies.

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“I have no doubt that you share our concern with the low level of industrialization in our country especially the manufacturing sector, which currently contributes less than 10 percent to the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

“This is indeed most undesirable considering the fact that the manufacturing sector is undoubtedly the bedrock of any thriving economy and a major provider of jobs and economic growth.

“I, therefore, urge that you continue to create and foster a more enabling environment for existing industries to thrive and to attract prospective ones so that the sector can make a greater contribution to your economies”.

“It is, therefore, a matter of urgent necessity for the governments of Nasarawa, Niger, and FCT to establish a more effective and efficient consultative mechanism with MAN”, Ahmed said.

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