Declaring that unemployment is the number one problem confronting the continent, President of Ghana, Addo Akufo-Addo, has called for collaboration between Nigeria and Ghana to lead industrial revolution on the continent.
He said the biggest challenge as inhabitants has been the inability to transform the abundant natural resources into opportunities for creation of jobs and wealth.
Speaking through his Senior Minister, Samuel Yaw Osafo-Maafo,, who represented him as a guest lecturer at the annual lecture during the 46th Annual General Meeting of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) in Lagos, yesterday, he noted that the continent boasts of young, determined and highly educated people across all sectors and yet, “we have not been able to get the right mix of policies to fully unearth and develop the entrepreneurial talents that abound in Nigeria in particular and on the continent.”
Akufo-Addo said that governments in Africa must use the procurement muscle of the state to support industrialisation in their respective countries.
He said governments spend a large portion of their budgets to buy goods and services to run the state, noting that if the appropriate policies are made, procurement policies of the state should favour local production – to support the social sectors such as schools, hospitals, police, army, prisons, among others.
He disclosed that due to corruption, such policies favour the procurement of cheap goods from other countries to rather support those countries’ industrialisation process instead of Africa.
“We need to stop this needless drive for importation and direct our attention to protecting local businesses. We must tailor our procurement laws to favour local production.
For every cheap item we buy from outside Nigeria, Ghana or the continent as a whole, we shall bear in mind that we are providing employment to other people outside our borders and denying our people the jobs to make a living and create wealth in dignity. Africa must procure prudently to protect itself and provide labour to its youth.”
The Ghanaian leadert explained that Africa could create the champions of entrepreneurs and business giants who could stand shoulder to shoulder with foreign businesses.
“We have many examples of our own to celebrate like the Dangotes. What we must never stop to do is to effectively ensure that both the private and public sectors continuously engage in productive dialogues and consultations to define what is good for our industrial sustainability and I believe this meeting will deepen that process.”
In his welcome address, the Outgoing President, Manufacturer Association of Nigeria (MAN), Dr. Frank Udemba Jacobs, said that government needs to speed up actions that would lead to the quick resolution of the challenges facing the Manufacturers in order to reposition and further improve the performance of the manufacturing sector.
Jacobs stated that the theme of the annual general meeting, “Mainstreaming Industrial Policies to Catalyse Industrial Renaissance “, was borne out of the need to appraise the performance of industrial policy initiatives, with a view to ensuring that they are positively aligned to the industrial aspirations and overall economic development agenda of the nation.
On the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) agreement, he commended the President of Ghana for the patriotic decision took to withhold assent to the AFCFTA in order to have a wider consultation on issues involved in the AFCFTA.
He reiterated that MAN is not against any agreement that will facilitate intra-African trade, particularly where Africans stand to benefit.
“Our concerns were principally the inadequacy of private-sector stakeholders’ consultations and the absence of a credible country-specific study that should form the basis of our negotiation as a country, “.
Jacobs applauded the Federal Government for maintaining the position of most private sector stakeholders by not signing the European Union Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).
He said that EPA runs counter to the industrial aspirations as a nation, as clearly enshrined in the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP) and the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) and will dismantle the industrialisation headways already made in Nigeria. “We hereby recommended that this stance be maintained in the best interest of our economy and the over one hundred and eighty million Nigerians.”