By Merit Ibe
The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), has restated the urgent need for the Federal Government to address the incessant increase in electricity tariffs and other challenges that could inpinge on country’s competitiveness in an African Continental Free Trade market.
The Association also emphasised the need for corporate trading among Africans to be able to expand productivity in Africa and together face the international community.
MAN Director General, Segun Ajayi-Kadir, who made the remarks in Lagos, noted that government needs to address the nation’s high electricity tariff especially in respect to supply to the manufacturing sector.
He added that other trade facilitation issues, like the port challenges, transportation issues, insecurity that continues to constrain business, needed a quick action as the country cannot operate in a continental trade area with these problems.
“You cannot operate in a continental trade area with an inefficient port. I mean it costs about the same amount to take a 40- foot container from China to Nigeria like to take it to Agbara, a journey of less than 27km. This is quite unacceptable, we need to resolve it.
“We also have the issue of transportation, not to mention the issue of insecurity that continues to constrain business.”
He lamented that there are quite a lot of low hanging fruits that needed to be taken away to allow the sector thrive.”
“The manufacturing sector is already plagued by high cost operating environment emanating principally from energy tariff and poor regulation.” This poor condition, according to him, is responsible for the oscillatory performance of the sector.
To him, this is against the background of prevailing harsh operating environment, the increasing burden of taxes and the enormous spending on self-generated electricity.
The DG noted that though laying of structures and platforms for trading and various negotiations were ongoing, it does not stop the country from starting, saying “in the process of trading, we will have the aspects of the conclusion of these structures falling in place for the continent to fully resume trading. He however, noted that what was key and important for every country was to get set, prepare their local and domestic economies, overcome its supply chain constraints, deploy resources to be able to enter the value chain that the African continent promises.
“We also have the setting up of the AfCFTA secretariat in Accra, Ghana, that is still undergoing construction. So, we do not have full structures on ground. We have the area of countries having to set up the structures that will allow them to effectively trade. Even the platforms for trading, the various negotiations that have to be done at the regional economy group levels most of them are ongoing. “However, we should not wait until all of these components are in place, we should start and in the process we will have the aspects of the conclusion of these falling in place for the continent to fully resume trading.