By VICTOR AHIUMA-YOUNG
Organised Labour has called on the Federal Government to develop an industrial policy supportive of local production through deliberate strategies of promoting competitiveness through aggressive infrastructural support and a mix of well thought out macroeconomic framework that reward value addition and employment generation.
This came as it commended the Federal Government on the new Automotive policy, saying “although, increase in tariff up to 70 percent will initially raise the prices of imported second hand cars from Europe. It is a necessary sacrifice that is required to stimulate local production of automobiles in Nigeria.
The establishment of local Assembly plants will create several thousands of jobs, provide opportunity for skill development and save the country enormous foreign exchange that is usually transferred for the importation of all kinds of automobiles into the country. Similar policies had ensured that Nigeria attained self sufficiency in cement production within a short period.”
Some affiliates of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, gave the advice in a communiqué issued after a roundtable organized to mark the Africa Industrialization Day 2013 with the Theme: Job Creation and Entrepreneurship Development –A Means to Accelerate Industrialization in Africa organized by NLC, TUC Affiliates and Federation of Informal Workers of Nigeria, FIWON, with the Support of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, FES.
NLC and TUC affiliates at the roundtable included union in Textile sector, Construction and Furniture industry the Food and Beverage sector Steel and Engineering, Chemical and Leather industry, as well as FIWON.
Participants at the roundtable contended that in spite of the promise of independence for sustainable industrial development and the observed progress in industrialisation in the 70s through the 80s in which Nigeria recorded significant growth in the manufacture of household goods, steel and engineering, textile and apparels as well as automobile assembly, industrial manufacturing had witnessed monumental decline in the last two decades with contribution to gross domestic product, GDP, standing at a meagre 4 per cent in 2012.
According to the communique, “The biggest problem facing rapid industrialization in the country over the past decade has been inadequate infrastructure in general and lack of power supply in particular. The current power generation of 4000 megawatts translate to a mere 30 watts per capital when average for developed economies is 2000 watts per capital and therefore grossly inadequate for home and industrial needs.
In fact over 60 per cent of the population are completely excluded from electricity supply. In spite of the challenge of global competition the manufacturing industry as a whole generates around 72 per cent of its own energy needs at a greater cost. But operating with generators greatly increases the cost of manufacturing goods making it difficult for Nigerian goods to compete with cheaper imports. “
“The problems dovetail into the informal economy with its peculiar needs for electricity across rural and urban divide. There is a huge gap between the electricity needs estimated to be about 25,000 megawatts currently and the current electricity generation of 4,000 megawatts. That this gap will be further widened with increasing demand for electricity that is estimated to double in 2025.
The Federal Government should develop and follow an industrial policy that is supportive of local production through deliberate strategies of promoting competitive production through aggressive infrastructural support and a mix of well thought out macroeconomic framework that reward value addition and employment generation.”