The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), has called on government to provide a more conducive environment that will support the growth of the production sector.
The MAN reminded government that the manufacturing sector remains the bedrock of the economy but unfortunately contributes just 10 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
President of MAN, Ahmed Mansur, who made the call at the 33rd yearly general meeting of the Anambra, Ebonyi and Enugu chapters of the association, that held in Enugu at the weekend attributed the trend to low industrialization of the country.
He said the development was undesirable considering that manufacturing is the major provider of employment and economic growth.
He therefore appealed to the governments of Anambra, Ebonyi and Enugu states to support manufacturers by creating a more conducive environment for existing and prospective industries to thrive and contribute to economic growth.
The president stated the need for state governments to establish a more effective and efficient consultative mechanism with manufacturers to facilitate the sustenance of existing industrial firms.
“I am aware some of the operators are struggling under the weight of overwhelming infrastructural deficit, multiple taxation, power supply and other challenges”, he noted.
Vice Chairman, MAN, for Anambra, Ebonyi and Enugu chapter, Lady Ada Chukwudozie, stated that manufacturers in the southeast region are disadvantaged and may not compete favourably with their counterparts in the Northern and Western regions as they have failed to benefit from certain policies of government like others.
Chukwudozie, who is the Executive Director, Dozzy Oil and Gas limited pointed out that poor road network to link with other regions, rising insecurity, access to energy due to poor grid power and the absence of gas lines have seriously challenged manufacturing in the region, stressing that there was no way any company can survive with lack of basic infrastructure.
She observed that though the government had good intentions when it moved to diversify the economy from oil to gas with the Gas Master Plan.
She however added giving more advantage to manufacturers in the Northern and Western parts of the country than those of the southeast region would make it difficult for them to compete effectively.
She said the Nigeria Gas Master Plan, which was conceived to increase and improve local usage and feed gas-based industries among others, was yet to benefit manufacturers in the region, despite the huge deposits in the region.
She decried that the government was spending huge sums of money to ensure that gas pipelines were laid for over 500 kilometres to other regions while neglecting manufacturing hubs such as Aba, Nnewi and Onitsha that would require a little amount to fix its pipeline.
Chukwuedozie, also noted that southeast had the least number of 330kv substations in the country, adding that “because of the transmission constraints, a manufacturer in the southeast is unable to enter into a bilateral power procurement with generating firms in the region”.
On the rail line network, she explained that while attempts had been made to replace the narrow gauge with a standard gauge in the western part, the move to rehabilitate the narrow gauge on the eastern plank would create compatibility issues and difficulty for manufacturers.
She suggested that to improve manufacturing in the southeast region, there must be stable electricity supply, the inclusion of the zone in the second phase of the national integrated power plant and connection into the national gas pipeline network to guarantee supply of gas to manufacturing facilities.
Governor Willie Obiano, of Anambra state, who was represented by his Deputy, Dr Nkem Okeke, at the forum suggested more interaction and cooperation among the governors of the zone to overcome manufacturing challenges in the region.
Obiano, stated that with good policies and focused attention, the zone can overcome her challenges.