The need to start patronizing made-in Nigeria goods and services cannot be overemphasized as it is one major way to economic growth and development. The economy of any nation grows rapidly when locally made goods are promoted through patronage, first by its people then through export. It is, however, dispiriting to know that we obviously have been growing other countries’ economies through our over-dependence on imported goods, especially those which could be locally sourced and produced.
In the quest to growing and promoting the nation’s economy, the President of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Mansur Ahmed, recently at the 47th Annual General Meeting of MAN, encouraged participants to patronise locally made goods.
Mansur said: “The more Nigerians consume locally made goods, the more we will be able to produce and employ more Nigerians in production as well as lift our people out of poverty. Producing what you consume and consuming what you produce is the best way to enrich your country, spread wealth among the people and alleviate poverty.”
While the intention is great, machinery and resources needed to achieve this national objective are still very scarce.
Take for instance Agriculture. Aside oil and gas, the Agric sector forms the core of Nigeria’s economy. While a larger number of the younger generation have abandoned farming and taken to careers in IT and office and business management, the dwindling oil and gas revenue has necessitated the search for new motivation to pull the economically viable people back into agriculture.
This then means that in the coming years, young and educated people will be able to turn their rich exposure into packaging locally sourced and processed proceeds into well branded products. It is already happening though. The ‘Ayoola Poundo yam’ and ‘Dundun Nation’ are viable examples. They were both produced locally and are doing well in the market. Giving the right encouragement through government support and public patronage, these businesses will be competing well with goods imported from the UK, China and South Africa, etc.
How can these local businesses and products be encouraged? The central Bank of Nigeria, the Bank of Industry and the commercial banks in the country will have to provide financial supports and incentives to help local producers carry out research, build modern factories, improve on packaging and price products attractively and competitively.
Improved standard will help local goods compete favourably with the imported ones. Nigerians cannot be forced to buy what adds little or no value to them. Image and perception are critical. If the local manufacturers have enough funding to conduct research and market their efforts, they can be competitive.
Also the austere operating and business environment is a critical sore point and disadvantage presently. The 25-30 percent interest rates placed on enterprise loans is not good enough for a nation seeking to encourage internal production and consumption. Very few manufacturing firms could survive on short term credit facility at 20-25 interest rates. That is crippling when one considers the rich landscape of investors, seed funding, grants and bank offerings making economics beyond the continent thick.
Utility is also key. Power must be stable for local manufacturers to offer quality goods at competitive prices. Tax incentives and enterprise solutions must be made available to Nigerian manufacturers. China, the US, Sweden, Germany, and Japan have done so much for themselves in that regards. Nigeria cannot rely on mere intention alone. Government and policy makers must back up the push for consumption of local goods with good actions.
What will then be the use of all these if our locally produced goods / products are not reliable, durable or affordable for the common man?
Even if these local products are reliable and affordable, will Nigerians still patronize them if proper orientation and awareness are not put in place by manufacturers for prospective consumers to know their qualities and offer? Granted continuous importation of foreign products may not allow local contents thrive in Nigeria, however the government need to do more than mere making policy statements on the pages of newspapers. We need to see improved and functional business environment. We need improved power which sometimes alternative sourcing adds as much as 40% to cost of production. We need to see a tax system that does not stifle and discourage producers, an example is the multiple tax system on most of our products.
Nigeria can easily experience a breakthrough in the quest for local content development and a stable, strong and advanced economy if its citizens would patronise made-in-Nigeria products. However the two critical questions begging for answer among others are, are we are ready to encourage these local contents by patronizing them. Is the government of the day ready to provide conducive and cost effective business environment to encourage local manufacturers? Only time will tell!
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