By KUNLE KALEJAYE
The existence of local manufacturers, Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) in Nigeria has been threatened due to the inability to access funds from local banks, thereby posing serious challenges to expand their business frontiers.
Their survival, however, depend on the Federal Government’s intervention through the formulation of policies that will ease access to funds.
One of such manufacturers, Electricity Meters Manufacturing Company has appealed to the Federal Government to provide financial assistance to indigenous firms like electricity meter, which is key to the President Jonathan’s transformation agenda in the power sector.
The Chairman of the company, Mr. Kola Balogun, made the appeal in a chat with Vanguard at the weekend in Lagos, adding that such a support will enhance the growth of SMEs and fast-track economic development in the country.
To enhance locally produced meters of various types and electrical components in the country, Balogun said that his company has invested over N3billion.
Against this background, he urged the Federal Government to halt the importation of meters into the country to promote growth in local content by supporting local manufacturers, which will in turn, spur improvement in quality.
“I feel it important that Nigeria should stop importing electricity meters so that we can migrate from importing meters to manufacturing of meters of various types in Nigeria.
“In MEMMOL alone, we have a production capacity of 50,000 to 100,000 meters monthly, not to mention the production capacity of other companies in the same business,’’ he said.
He noted that apart from the inability to access funds from government to finance businesses, inadequate electricity supply has also impacted negatively on production capacity.
Balogun admitted that the company which has over N3billion investments, was largely supported by the Bank of Industry (BoI)
He also stated that the company commenced the production of pre-paid meters in October 2012, but was forced to shut down in November due to government’s pronouncement of free pre-paid meters to Nigerians.
According to him, “Electricity is a major set-back in our company. Since the establishment of the factory; public electricity supply has not been connected to the factory.
“We are basically running on generator, which is one of the major complaints of our partners over the years, because our equipment is very a sensitive machine that required uninterrupted supply.
“Government’s earlier pronouncement that the supply of pre-paid meters should be free to PHCN customers affected our production. Our major challenge is that we have not seen a single order of repaid meter from the sector since then.
“However, our company is planning to commence full production because of the reversal on the government pronouncement and hopefully, there will be a huge demand for meters.
He said that the company before the pronouncement had staff strength of over 600, but downsized to 100 workers last year due to the PHCN’s inability to procure the meters.
The Chairman reiterated that the company had developed ultra-modern call centers for PHCN customers across the country to address customers’ complaints across the 11 PHCN distribution companies in Nigeria.
“This will give customers better service across the nation and address customers’ need. It a soft landing for customers because it will interface with all the DISCOs, which is another innovation in the power sector,” he said.