The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has advocated the need for a country-wide study to determine the possible impact, benefits and likely harm the proposed African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) could have on the nation’s economy.
This is even as the manufacturers’ umbrella body expressed displeasure that the National Office for Trade Negotiations (NOTN) version of the outcome of the stakeholders’ engagement and sensitization on the proposed pact as reported in the media “does not adequately reflect the overall proceedings and factual expressions at those meetings”.
The national president of the association, Dr. Frank S. U. Jacobs, expressed the group’s position on the AfCFTA discussions while flagging off the 31st Annual General Meeting of Imo/Abia Branch of MAN, in Owerri, Imo State.
Jacobs reminded the Federal Government that “the absence of a country-wide study to determine the possible impact, benefit and downside of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement, AFCFTA, on the Nigerian economy in general and the manufacturing sector in particular is now a source of worry to MAN.”
He therefore called on the government and other relevant agencies to work together and come up with findings that would enlighten Nigerians on the benefits and disadvantages the endorsement of the agreement portends for Nigeria.
Jacobs also lamented the poor road network in the Onitsha Road Industrial Layout, Owerri, describing it “awful, most regrettable and capable of squeezing life out of whatever remains of industrial life in Imo State”.
“I took a quick tour of the Industrial Layout today (yesterday) and what I saw baffled me. It is simply inaccessible and virtually all the industrial concerns in the area have either closed down or on the verge of closing shop. This is a sad commentary”, Dr. Jacobs said.
The MAN president pointed out there was no way the private sector can help in absorbing the huge army of unemployed but employable citizens with this level of devastation in the Industrial Layout.”
He appealed therefore to the Imo State Goverrnment to “save the industrial concerns in the layout and the state generally by enhancing the road network infrastructure and creating enabling environment for enterprises to thrive.
Earlier, the Imo/Abia Branch chairman of the association, Mr. Nwabueze Anyanwu, wondered why the South East and South South geo-political zones cannot attract a Public Private Partnership (PPP) in critical areas that will have multiplier effect to the industrial development of the zones.
He lamented the state of the roads in the South East and South South, noting that it is practically impossible for government to fully address the issues of unemployment, job creation and industrialisation, without any input from MAN.
Anyanwu also accused the Imo and Abia State governments of not improving the operating environment to attract investment in the area of industrialisation in the year under review.