Gentlemen of the Press,

On behalf of the National Council of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), I am pleased to welcome you to the 2020 Edition of the MAN Annual Media Luncheon/ MAN Reporter of the year Award Ceremony.

Let me start by expressing my heartfelt appreciation towards your outstanding performance in projecting MAN advocacy activities on your diverse media platforms in the course of year 2019. As a Business Membership Organization, we certainly hold the fourth estate of the realm in high esteem owing to the intrinsic role you play as the conscience of the society.

The year 2019 was quite eventful for the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria owing to the dire need for engagement with the Government on policy decisions with the potential of having far reaching impact on the manufacturing sector. You played your part in the process by publicizing the issues which led to the over 500 media exposures the Association recorded in 2019. This, by far, is an improvement from the previous year and I thank you greatly for that.

Like we always assured, the Association is committed to strengthening its relationship with the press as we are confident of attaining more milestones through your resolute support in giving our activities and programmes the publicity it deserves.

The feedback from the panel of judges that reviewed the entries submitted by participating correspondents revealed the thoroughness and depth exhibited in the news reports and broadcast; this says a lot about your level of commitment for the growth and development of the manufacturing sector in particular and the economy in general.

Gentlemen of the Press, in appreciation of the contributions of the media to the Association’s advocacy drive and accomplishments, we will continue to improve on the “MAN Reporter of the Year Award”; as winners for the 2019 edition will be announced in due time. Let me also appreciate those of you that have been diligently reporting MAN activities even though you may not have submitted entries for the award. Still, I will encourage more participation from a good number of you who are yet to give the entry submissions a shot.

At this juncture, let me inform you that I have been confirmed as the substantive Chairman of the Pan African Manufacturers Association (PAMA), the umbrella body of manufacturers in Africa, which has its main objective of bringing African manufacturers together to jointly engage  Governments of the African continent to create a conducive and enabling environment for local businesses to thrive as we anticipate the takeoff of AfCFTA from July.

For the gains of AfCFTA to be realized, government must show readiness in addressing the supply side constraints of lack of infrastructure; and  policies and regulations not being too harsh for businesses to operate; rather regulations should be seen as a way of assisting businesses to grow which ultimately enhance competitiveness and boost the economies.

As the Association remains at the forefront for setting the pace for engagement with other African Manufacturers, the Nigerian government must also lead by example in ensuring that policies are industry friendly as this is the only guarantee for a competitive intra-African trade.  We cannot achieve competitiveness without the provision of infrastructure such as good road networks and electricity, not only within African countries but also across the borders. There is also the aspect of provision of soft infrastructure – like visa, tariffs, and foreign exchange – that will help ease up the process of carrying out business transactions between countries.   We must address all these issues since the AfCFTA is not just about trade in goods but also trade in services.

As you may be aware, modern industry competitiveness depends to a great extent on provision of adequate and efficient infrastructure. From the availability of power and energy to transport and logistics, the role of infrastructure cannot be overemphasized in trade and economic development on the continent. Transportation alone is vital to enhancing competitiveness in trade. For instance, due to poor infrastructure, it will cost a business owner in Nigeria more to transport goods from Lagos to Kano than it will cost a Chinese business owner to transport the same goods from China to Lagos.

Speaking of infrastructure, electricity is a vital input for manufacturing process to the extent that it constitutes up to 40% of the cost of production. Increasing the tariff of this core input will have drastic negative effect on the Gross National Product (GNP); Gross Domestic Product (GDP), disposable income, consumption, consumer price index, employment, government revenue from corporate taxation etc. Similar to this is the uneven pricing of this commodity across DisCos, which if not corrected, will lead to uneven development in certain parts of Nigeria as the percentage increase in tariff differs. 

A reduction in electricity tariff for industrial purpose is more ideal but even if it cannot be reduced, it should be not be increased; any increase on the tariff will reinforce the already high cost manufacturing environment and further depress productivity in the sector.

Our appeal is that Government, being a major stakeholder in the electricity industry, should concentrate on developing processes and polices to attract significant investment to encourage large scale generation and significant improvement in transmission and distribution.

It is also important for government to ensure adequate and appropriate consultations with stakeholders in the private sector on such decisions with far-reaching implications.

Let me seize this opportunity to inform you about the fifth edition of the Nigerian Manufacturing and Equipment Expo (NME) Co-located with the Nigerian Raw Materials Expo scheduled for March 10-12,2020 at Landmark Event Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos. The theme for this year is: The Fourth Industrial Revolution and the Nigerian Manufacturing Sector. As you may be aware, this gathering is a top notch gathering of international repute where manufacturers, major suppliers of manufacturing equipment and researchers of raw materials meet for strengthened collaboration, technology and logistical solutions and business deals under a secure and trusted platform. You are cordially invited to witness this epoch-making event as we trust you to publicize the event and make news around it till the D-Day.

The Association has prepared some position documents which we believe will be a good source of news item for your various media platforms.

Distinguished Gentlemen of the Press, once again, I appreciate all you do for the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, thank you and enjoy the rest of the event.

Thank you.

Engr. Mansur Ahmed, FNES, FNIM