GDP: Manufacturers doubt sustained growth

*Harps tech application for increased output

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Against the backdrop of the 2.7 percent Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth reported for 2019 by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has cast doubts on the sustainability of the growth due to prevailing adverse operating environment.

The Association is also calling on industry operators to leverage technology to ramp up output and help GDP growth.

President, MAN, Engr. Mansur Ahmed, who stated these Wednesday, in the Association’s preliminary position on the current GDP report, said that the real GDP of 2.27 percent in 2019 compared with 1.91% of 2018 undoubtedly revealed a promising but cautious trajectory of improving economic performance.

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He stated: “This is encouraging, especially because it obviously surpassed the 2.1% projections of IMF apparently due to the usual heavy transactional seasonality activities. It is however doubtful that this would be sustained in the coming quarters because of the prevailing unfriendly operating environment.

“This doubt would be overcome if government ensures that its Ease of Doing Business reforms translates to reduction in the cost of doing business thereby resulting in a real GDP growth that may again surpass the 2.0% projection for 2020.”

According to Mansur, in order to facilitate steady economic growth, especially in the light of the forthcoming African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, “government must encourage and support the real sector through provision of basic infrastructure, especially electricity; allow manufacturers access to forex for importation of raw materials items that are not available locally; improved patronage of made in Nigeria products, provision of production driven incentives; elimination of incidences of multiplicity taxes, levies/fees and provision of an environment friendly to manufacturing.”

Meanwhile, the MAN President has called on Nigerians to start using technology to produce own food, products and other indigenous innovations.

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He said this has become imperative so the country will not be perpetually dependent on developed countries.

Ahmed made the call in a media parley on the forthcoming 5th Edition of the Nigeria Manufacturing and Equipment Expo (NME) and 6th Edition of the Nigerian Raw Materials Expo (NIRAM) of the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) with the theme, “The Fourth Industrial Revolution and the Nigerian Manufacturing sector”.

According to him, the current and developing environment in which disruptive technologies and trends such as Blockchain; Internet; Machine Learning; Artificial Intelligence; Driverless car and Augmented Realty, among others, would dictate the pace of development among nations.

“One must also not lose focus from latching on locally sourced raw materials and other support facilities like the needed financing and logistics services which will be central to our engagement. The Expo which was initiated as a response to the government’s commitment to industrialization and Nigeria’s need to diversify the economy has so far been fulfilling the core of its mandate as attested by participants who constantly make the international manufacturing and equipment gathering a priority event.” he said.

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