Forex, COVID-19 forced 415 firms out of production – MAN

The foreign exchange (Forex) restriction by the Central Bank of Nigeria and the COVID-19 pandemic forced 415 companies to stop manufacturing in the last one year, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has said.

The Director-General, MAN, Mr Segun Ajayi-Kadir, lamented that supply-side constraints, such as the traffic logjam at the ports slowing down access to imported raw materials, had hampered the growth of manufacturing in the country.

According to him, other challenges are infrastructure, including power transportation acquisition of lands, the multiplicity of taxes and levies from different tiers of government, and inconsistent government policies.

Ajayi-Kadir, while addressing journalists at the cake-cutting event organised to mark MAN’s 50th anniversary on Friday, said manufacturers would be able to thrive if the constraints were addressed.

He said, “However, on our own, we are doing a lot to improve the bottom line of our members. We are linking up with manufacturers across Africa so that we can create a cross-border value chain to develop areas where we have comparative and competitive advantage.

“We are also assisting them with the provision of information about the availability of raw materials. We are partnering with different organisations, both within and outside the country.

“We are signing MoU with parastatals of government like SON and NAFDAC. All of these is to improve the quality and delivery of our members’ products.”

Asked how many of the association’s members have closed operations in the last one year, Ajayi-Kadir said, “There was a time that, immediately the central bank restricted forex for 41 items and with the impact of COVID-19, we had tremendous downturn in 415 industries and many of them actually went under.

“But to the extent that they have been able to gradually reopen, I may not be able to calculate. But there was a time that 415 actually went off the radar of manufacturing in the last one year.”

He said in the next 50 years, the association would be more focused on creating resilience, adding, ‘We want to boost our capacity so that in spite of all these debilitating factors surrounding us, we should be able to thrive as a sector.

“We have made some progress in terms of manufacturing; it has not all been tales of woes.”

The MAN boss said he was looking forward to legislation on the patronage of made-in-Nigeria products.

“There is no reason why ministers, and to even start with the National Assembly, should not be driving made-in-Nigeria cars. We have cars that are assembled here.”

Ajayi-Kadir said in spite of limitations, the manufacturing sector had continued to show resilience and promise.

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