The African Free ContinentalTrade; Nigeria

Written by | The Breakdown


Last week, the President, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Frank Jacobs, at the 2018 Annual General Meeting of the Association in Port Harcourt, confirmed that made-in-Nigeria goods are struggling to compete with other products in the international market. Just when the country should be thinking about enhancing economic growth through manufacturing for both local and export consumption, it is saddening to hear that the goods are still finding it hard to compete internationally.

Reports from the Authorities suggest that smuggling exposes goods to unfair competition with cheaper foreign ones. As such, when the products reach the market, the locally produced goods are already 40 per cent more expensive, experts say. This situation is making the country deficient – viewed as a country that can only be dependent on import or the import of raw materials and not finished goods. 

One significant factor that impedes manufacturing is the irregular power supply across the country. How astonishing it is to know that Nigeria – with a population estimated at 193 million – survives with 5,000 megawatts of electricity. As such, the country is not ready to sign the Free Trade Agreement. Signing the agreement now could bring down the local industry in flames, which implies turning the country into a refuse heap for all types of goods.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) places South Africa’s installed power generation capacity at 49,555 MW – South Africa has been able to attain a high level of electricity generation by relying on a mixture of thermal, hydroelectric and renewable energy sources. It is not a marvel that the country is the most industrialised in Africa. And according to a statistics portal, Statista, Mexico was generating 21.2 gigawatts in 2016, up from 19.2 the previous year.

Another country that should set Nigeria on its track is Ethiopia. Despite the drought and famine, the state has faced for decades; it now has the fastest growing economy on the continent. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Ethiopia’s growth is because of an “increase in industrial activities and investment in infrastructure and manufacturing”. It is currently building a dam, the Renaissance Dam, which will be the largest in Africa, with the capacity to generate 15,000 MW of electricity.

New research by the IMF suggests that “Ethiopia can be like modern China because it has been improving its road and rail connections, and has good air connections. Nigeria should emulate Ethiopia’s painstaking plans and deliberate actions to develop not only the power sector but every other sector in the economy. Efforts should also be made to liberalise the rail sector by scrapping the monopoly law of 1955, which has made the industry inefficient for more than 50 years. The aviation sector and the ports also need to be addressed, because all these sectors are essential to the progress of the locally produced goods in the global market. The recommendations from the report are very crucial to making the country appealing, first to its citizens and investors from around the globe.

Last modified: April 9, 2021

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