The federal government is considering tariff review and waivers as a new measure aimed at boosting and motivating local production.
President Goodluck Jonathan, who gave the indication while inaugurating the EMV certified smart card manufacturing plant of SecureID Limited in Lagos, explained that his administration had implemented policies to drive the growth of innovative products that would further aid the realisation of a digital economy.
Represented by the Minister of Communications and Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson, the president said that with the cards market still growing as a result of increasing need of the teeming population, it has become necessary to discourage excessive importation of services that can be offered in the country.
He added that the commissioning of the factory is in tandem with the present administration’s transformation agenda, stressing that government is unrelenting in its drive to encourage local investors to remain competitive in the country through favourable policy formulation and implementation.
Jonathan explained that capacity utilisation of factories is hinged on the ability to increase local content and boost patronage of goods and services being offered, adding that “What we are witnessing is the result of a collaborative effort between the ministries of Finance, Communications Technology and Industry, Trade and Investment. Government has done its part in making the communications technology sector attractive by making tariffs commercially uncompetitive for importers, especially in areas where the country has capacity. We need to support these industries through increased patronage if they have to thrive in their businesses”.
Also speaking at the event, the Managing Director, Bank of Industry (BOI), Mr. Rasheed Olaoluwa, said the company has done very well and had also been ISO certified by credible international players in the industry, saying that it is in line with the Nigerian industrial Revolution plan (NIRP).
“This is the first of its kind in sub Saharan Africa. The plant has been certified by all international players, it has a capacity to produce 200 million cards in a year. It also has the capacity to do any bank payment card, provide SIM cards for the telecom sector and a high security card to play a significant role in Nigeria’s identity card project,” he said.
He stated that the BOI has been able to support Secure ID in providing long-term facility, and expressed hope and confidence in the company’s efficient and effective long term operations for years to come.
“The commissioning is in the heart of BOI making an impact in our economic development. It is 100 per cent Nigerian owned, where about 95 per cent of the employees Nigerians are with staff strength of 350 people,” he added.
The Chairman, Secure ID Limited, Mr. Adedotun Sulaimon, stressed that the company was resolute and determined to get to where it is today and said the facility is a state-of-the-art outfit which boasts of quality and well trained staff to make it one of the top three smart services providers in the whole continent.
“Our staff are well trained, positioned and able to maintain our machines in the most efficient and effective manner,” he said.
The Managing Director, Secure ID Limited, Mrs. Kofo Akinkugbe, added that the first challenge the company had was building a local company to run on a global standard, stressing that the company had to change the orientation of its people to believe exporting products and services from Nigeria is possible.
She also said the infrastructural deficit in the country is still a bottleneck hindering local production, but expressed hope that the federal government is on the right track to address the challenge in no distant time.
“We know that the federal government is a huge supporter of local content and we believe infrastructure issues will be resolved at some point soon,” she said.
She pointed out the need for smart services is key to Nigeria’s economic growth and security, considering the population of the country, adding that Nigeria can no longer depend on imports.
“We cannot continue to depend on importation and not just import, but import of technology and skills. We must develop the skills in our people and train ourselves to be able to make products with technology that is tailored to our environment,” she said.
“We have backward integrated in making the plastic itself in producing smart cards and our first job in this newly commissioned plant is from a bank in Ghana. We have the capacity to serve Nigeria and other parts of Africa,” she added.