By NAOMI UZOR
LAGOS – Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, LCCI, yesterday, said the manufacturing sector was still groaning under the pressure of huge and unbearable energy cost, warning that if the trend persists, Nigeria may not have an industrial sector in a few years to come.
Speaking on the economy, the new President of LCCI, Mr. Goodie Ibru, said most firms continue to rely entirely on generating sets to power their factories, adding that the cost was enormous, with diesel cost ranging between N150 and N165 per litre.
Ibru said: “This is added to the problem of dwindling sales, weak consumer demand, high cost of fund, dumping of substandard products at ridiculous prices in the market and unethical practices in the importation processes.
“If the trend persists, we may not have an industrial sector in a few years to come. Only a robust package of incentives can save the sector from total collapse. ‘The burden of energy cost and funding has become excruciating and intolerable,” he added.
He said that the biggest burden on the Nigerian economy was the power sector, adding “our per capita energy consumption is one of the lowest in the world, about 12 watts, as against that of South Africa which is 478 watts; Cameroon, 29 watts; Gabon 124; Ghana, 27 watts; and Mauritius, 198 watts. This clearly is the greatest obstacle to our economic development, job creation and poverty alleviation.
“The situation in the last couple of weeks was particularly unbearable both for firms and households, with power supply at its lowest in recent times. The high cost of diesel and petrol made the situation even more agonizing. We hope the government would be able to accelerate the process of reforming the sector. The pace so far is not encouraging,” he said.