The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has called on the CBN to allocate more FOREX to manufacturers to allow for importation of raw materials and machinery.
Dr Okwara Udensi, branch chairman of MAN, made the call in Benin on Thursday while addressing the 36th Annual General Meeting of the association Udensi observed that chronic dollar shortage was affecting the manufacturing sector negatively.
“Manufacturing companies are unable to access the dollar at the official rates and they need it for importation of raw materials.
“They have been consequently to go to the parallel market to get the dollar at higher rates.
“The sector is facing numerous challenges and it needs urgent attention of the Federal Government to provide adequate bailout for the sector to avoid total collapse,’’ he said.
Udensi stressed that the manufacturing sector would only be able to contribute to the country’s economic growth if the numerous challenges militating against its smooth operations were tackled.
He listed the challenges as poor electricity, high lending rates, multiple taxes and levies by government agencies, low patronage of made-in-Nigeria products and congestion at the Lagos ports, among others.
“It is our expectation that these identified challenges be addressed by government to move the country from an import-dependent to a self-sufficient and export-based economy.
“This can only be made possible with consistency in governments’ policies to guarantee the required enabling environment so that manufacturing companies are able to operate at maximum capacity,’’ he said.
Similarly, Mr Mansur Ahmed, National President of MAN, urged the CBN to direct commercial banks to process FOREX allocation applications by manufacturers transparently.
He also called on the Federal Government to evolve strategic response to the disruptive impact of the on-going Russian-Ukraine war on the global supply value chain.
He, however, commended Edo and Delta governments for prioritising youth empowerment through the Edo Innovation hub and the Graduate Employment Enhancement Programme in Delta.
Ahmed was represented by Dr Alofoje Unuigboje, a former Chairman of MAN, chapter.
In her remarks, Prof. Mercy Anyiwe, a professor of Economics at the University of Benin, urged manufacturers to leverage on innovation and technology to make their products competitive at the global market.
She charged MAN to partner with research institutes and the academia to overcome some of their challenges.
The Annual General Meeting has “Nigeria’s struggling macroeconomic policies: Lessons and challenges for the manufacturing sector’’ as its theme.
Gov. AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara says the state’s local economy has recorded huge gains over the last three years of his administration.
AbdulRazaq said on Thursday in that the number of active companies in Kwara grew from just 41 in 2019 to 77 in 2022, representing an impressive 87.5 per cent rise.
This is contained in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr Rafiu Ajakaye.
Quoting a data from the Kwara Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, the governor commended the business community for their strategic partnership with the government.
He noted that the rise was a tribute to the efforts of his administration to bring inclusive growth to Kwara and make life more worth living for its people.
He spoke at the Annual General Meeting and inauguration of the secretariat of the Manufacturers’ Association of Nigeria (MAN), whose resilience the governor commended.
AbdulRazaq said the growth in the number of functional firms has positive impacts on the standards of living of the people of the state.
The governor said government has curbed double and digitised many of its processes to improve land administration and other business transactions with positive outcomes for industrial growth in the state.
“From just 41 firms in 2019 to 77 in 2022, the percentage of functional companies in Kwara has grown by at least 87.8% over the last three years.
“From just four skeletal flights in 2019, we now have some 12 flights every day to and from the state capital, Ilorin.
Notwithstanding the national economic challenges, I’m impressed by the resilience and consistent growth of the Kwara economy.
“As of July 19, 2022, we had just 15 C of O waiting for printing, with just 46 R of O and 15 Assignments also awaiting printing.
” Otherwise, we have ensured that the government’s processes are done expeditiously.
We are similarly working on other proposals to improve the business climate in Kwara,” said the governorAbdulRazaq said the rising inflation and security challenges in the country are surmountable with everybody playing their best roles, reiterating his administration’s resolve to continue to assist the business community in the state.
He said the government’s commitment is evident in its ease of doing business campaigns and infrastructural development across the state, as well as its efforts to minimise communal conflicts and strengthen security of lives and properties.
The National President, MAN, Mr Mansur Ahmed, who described the association as the backbone of economic development and sustainable growth, appreciated the efforts of the AbdulRazaq administration to improve the business climate in the state.
“I have no doubt that Your Excellency is aware of the position and significance of the manufacturing sector in our economy.
I am aware that you have indeed done a lot for the past three years to improve the environment for investors and particularly those in the manufacturing sector.
“I would like to use this opportunity to thank you for this,” he said.
He assured the governor of the association’s continued partnership to encourage industrial growth in the state.
MAN’s Chairman for States branch, Chief Bioku Rahman, in his welcome address, appreciated the government for its giant strides and for creating an enabling atmosphere to grow businesses through the creation of Ease of Doing Business and other business-friendly policies in the state.
“Your Excellency, your decision to grace this event symbolises your recognition of the manufacturing industry as a key driver of our economy in Nigeria,” Rahman said.
The event was attended by creme de la creme in the Kwara business community, including the KWACCIMA President, Alhaji Olalekan Ayodimeji, and top industrialist Alhaji Kamoru Yusuf.
The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) on Thursday in Ilorin says the inestimable damage caused by the menace of counterfeit products poses graveous threat to the country’s economy.Chief Bioku Rahmon, the MAN Chairman for States, said this in Ilorin in his welcome address at the 8th Annual General Meeting and Commissioning of Secretariat Building of the association.He asserted that these damages can be comprehended as cutting across the three triangular ends of the manufacturers, the common man, and the government.“On the first end of that triangular, the manufacturers suffer from the menace of counterfeit products because today, we are witnessing gross erosion of our margins of Expected Profit (EP) and Return-On-Investment (ROI) by the influx of counterfeit products.“These products continue to claim lion portions of the markets share from us.“Disappointingly, we comply with stringent government regulations and standard products because the substandard products out there are available on the cheap,” he said.Rahmon explained that counterfeit products harms the common man by suffering damage to health, safety and well being after consuming or using these substandard products available in the market.According to him, significant sums are wasted on clinical diagnosis, medical treatments and surgeries by victims thereafter.He observed that this is not limited to drugs, but also for roofing sheets, iron rods and other products.The MAN chairman however assured that the association would continue to address the menace of counterfeit products in Nigeria and proffer solutions with strong collaboration with the government and other stakeholders.Gov. AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara commended the business community for their strategic partnership with the government and said the rise was a tribute to the efforts of the administration to bring inclusive growth to the state.AbdulRazaq said the growth in the number of functional firms has positive impacts on the standard of living of the people of the state.He stated that the rising inflation and security challenges in the country are surmountable with everybody playing their best roles.AbdulRazaq reiterated his administration’s resolve to continue to assist the business community in the state.On his part, Mr Mansur Ahmed, the National President of MAN, described the association as the backbone of economic development and sustainable growth and appreciated the efforts of the AbdulRazaq administration to improve the business climate in Kwara State.He pointed out that the manufacturing sector was the backbone of any economy, because it is a sector that provides and sustains wealth creation.“It is a sector that provides jobs on a continuous and sustainable basis, and it is a sector that drives capacity building and improves economic resilience,” he said.He assured the governor of the association’s continued partnership to encourage industrial growth in the state.NewsSourceCredit: NAN
The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) on Wednesday urged commercial banks and the Organised Private Sector (OPS) to join hands to grow the economy.
Mr Mansur Ahmed, President of MAN, gave the advice at the first National Stakeholders Conference organised by the Association of Corporate Affairs Managers of Banks (ACAMB) in partnership with the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) in Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the conference supported by Access Bank, Ecobank, FirstBank and Zenith Bank had: “Promoting Synergy Between the Banking Industry and the Organised Private Sector,’’ as the theme.
Ahmed said that the performance and development of both sectors were expedient for the sustainability of the economy; hence, the need for both sectors to work together to reduce poverty, attract investment and boost economic growth.
“The traditional industry-bank lending relationship is no longer supporting the growth of the industry, the bank and the economy, as a whole.
“ Industry activities have massively declined showing rising number of moribund industries across the country and the increasing capital flight.
“ Based on this information, it is important that the commercial banks and the industry should come together to chart new ways of supporting each other to the benefit of all.
“ There is no doubt that the industry needs the bank to increase investment and production while the bank needs the industry for interest payment incomes and equity subscription,’’ he said.
He, therefore, recommended that the commercial bank should develop corporate patriotism to strengthen the willingness to lend at the interest rate that supports both the industry and the banking sector for the sake of the economy.
He stressed the need to prioritise attention to industry foreign exchange requests, particularly in this period of acute shortage.
Ahmed represented by Mr Ambrose Oruche, Director, Corporate Services of MAN, also urged the banks to ensure that government or international development funds were well accessed without undue difficult conditionality.
He recommended the creation of a process that would support equipment acquisition in the industry and creation of funds to support industry-bank joint venture for easy financing of specific industry business.
He also suggested the creation of a unit for business support and capacity development for the industry as well as a trade support unit.
Mr Ide Udeagbala, President, Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), represented by Mr Ayo Osinloye, urged stakeholders to provide answers to the difficult challenges being faced by the private sector.
“They face weak infrastructure, especially in terms of power, transportation, and workspace.
They lack a collective voice and have relatively weak influence of policy formulation.
They have poor access to vital resources, especially finance,” Udeagbala said.
Also speaking, Mr Eboagwu Ezulu, Deputy Director, Financial System Stability Directorate of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), advised the OPS to approach the development financing institutions for financial assistance.
“I am aware that the Development Bank of Nigeria was established in collaboration with the CBN to provide funding as well as the Bank of Industry established to support the manufacturing sector.
“Have we the manufacturing sector approached those entities to utilise the funds available rather than asking the commercial banks?
“Banks are supposed to approach the CBN on behalf of their customers to solve these problems; the commercial banks lend for credit purpose, they have the primary responsibility to protect their depositors,’’ Ezulu said Dr Ken Opara, the CIBN President, noted that the organised private sectors were the real drivers of real sector growth and economic advancement through industrialisation, job creation, provision of goods and services and poverty alleviation.
“Thus a well-functioning financial system and a rigorous private sector are important drivers of national growth in terms of Gross Domestic Product, employment generation, economic stability and poverty reduction.
“However, I must admit that there are still a lot of untapped opportunity between these two critical sectors some of which are attributable to lack of proper handshake between the bodies.
“Given the interdependence of both sector, it has become imperative for both to work mutually for the growth of the nation’s economy,’’ Opara said.
Earlier, Mr Rasheed Bolarinwa, President ACAMB, said that the outlook of the conference was essentially to develop a workable roadmap for the two sectors to synergise for the benefit of the national economy.
“Finance, the essence of banking is the driving force for the private sector.
Capital, is probably the primary factor of production.
“On the other side, the private sector, as the end users of banking services and the largest sector of the economy, is also conversely the driver of a sustainable and viral banking sector.
“So, I will say there is a symbiotic relationship between the two sectors, banking is important to the private sector, just as the private sector is important to the banks.
That explains why this conference is taking place.
“So, it is safe to conclude that the more active and synergistic the relationship between banking and private sector, the more we are collectively able to develop and grow the national economy for sustainable Nigeria,’’ he said.
The National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons (NAPTIP) says it is prosecuting 52 cases of human trafficking and related offences in Borno, Adamawa, Gombe and Yobe. The Zonal Commander of the agency, Mr Mansur Ahmed, stated this in a statement, in Maiduguri on Monday, as part of activities to mark the 2022 World Day Against Human Trafficking, slated for July 30.
The theme for this year is: “Use and Abuse of Technology, addresses the role that technology has played and is still playing in promoting and impeding trafficking in persons.” He said the cases comprised 44 in Borno, two in Gombe, three each in Adamawa and Yobe. He said that since the establishment of its zonal office in Maiduguri in 2009, the agency rescued, counselled, rehabilitated and re-united 557 victims.
“The zone also inaugurated TIPs sexual and gender based vanguard clubs in Federal Unity Secondary schools across the North-East. “The zone in collaboration with International Organisation for Migration (IOM) empowered victims of Trafficking in Personx (TIPs) with livelihood and skill acquisition support materials,” he said.
According to him, the agency is effectively carrying out its role and response on human trafficking through the use of new trend, abusing technology and adoption of Prevention, Prosecution, Protection, Partnership and Policy (5Ps) strategy to achieved its mandate.
He lauded the Borno government, law enforcement agencies, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) and development organisations for their support to the agency.
The Institute of Directors Nigeria (IoD) and economic experts have emphasised the need to bridge Nigeria’s infrastructure deficit to engender economic growth.
According to them, it will also help to shore up industrialisation and global competitiveness.
They spoke at the IoD Research and Advocacy Committee Programme with the theme: “Infrastructure Development in Nigeria: A Necessity for Sustainable and Inclusive Growth” on Thursday in Lagos.
Dr Ije Jidenma, President, IoD, stated that one of the banes of Nigeria’s socio-economic development was poor infrastructure which adversely impacted citizens’ standard of living and overall psychological sense of well being.
Jidenma said that the gap in infrastructure development had affected the country’s growth trajectory in virtually all sectors; power, transportation, communication, aviation, education, health, and others.
She noted that in spite of plans by successive governments to address the infrastructure deficit, combinations of paucity of funds, poor implementation, policy summersaults and others have hindered its actualisation.
“Nigeria’s infrastructure deficit is estimated at 100 billion dollars annually, a figure that is 100 per cent above our annual infrastructural budget in the past few years.
“According to the African Development Bank report, a country’s infrastructure spend should be a minimum of six per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in order to attain a reasonable level of sustainable development.
“However, over the past decade, Nigeria’s infrastructure spending has been less than five per cent of GDP and much lower than the amount committed by other developing countries.
“With such gap, it has become difficult for the Nigerian government to adequately address the country’s infrastructure needs,” she said.
She charged the Federal Government to show more commitment to the judicious utilisation of available funds for infrastructure, to make the economy competitive to attract investments for improved revenue generation.
Mr George Donkor, President, ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development, noted that Nigeria had, in its priority for infrastructural growth and development, focused on policies that finance infrastructural development through Public – Private Partnerships (PPP).
Donkor, represented by Mr Macdonald Saye Goanue, the Bank’s Director, Research and Strategic Planning, said the country’s Infrastructure Company Limited (InfraCo) would substantially reduce its infrastructural deficit.
He said that Nigeria had undertaken substantial investments in infrastructure in projects such as the world trade center, Lekki free zone, Abuja gateway airport, with economic opportunities to make the country more attractive to investors.
Donkor charged the country to target rural areas for such infrastructure development, to enhance social and economic development in the region and reduce regional and social disparities.
“Infrastructure is a foundation of economic growth, financial inclusion, employment, women’s empowerment, better quality of life and poverty alleviation.
“However, substantial investment is needed to drive Nigeria’s infrastructural growth and development to unleash the country’s vast potentials.
“We are willing to do what it takes to get Nigeria to the infrastructural space it needs to be at because once Nigeria’s problem is solved, more than half of the problem in the sub region is solved,” he said.
Mrs Mama Edet, Deputy Director, Planning Division, Ministry of Aviation, stated that the critical role of infrastructure in the lifespan of a country like Nigeria would spur economic growth to help local economies access global market.
Edet said that infrastructure investments in the aviation sector would make air transportation secure, efficient and above all, environmentally-friendly to spur the growth and sustainability of the aviation industry for global competitiveness.
She revealed that the Nigeria was reviewing the civil aviation Act 2006 to ensure that the aviation space continues to regulate aviation safety and other matters without interference.
“Nigeria has continued to make significant improvement in the security infrastructure of the aviation sector with the up to date security equipment at airports, training of aviation personnel with security apparatus to tackle terrorism.
“We have carried out vulnerability assessment of our airports and put in place apparatus to curb any acts of terrorism,” she said.
Dr Muda Yusuf, Founder, Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprises (CPPE), noting that at the heart of global competitiveness and production is infrastructure, said the private sector must invest in bankable infrastructure projects.
“Though all infrastructural projects are important, the private sector should streamline to only invest in those that are bankable such as telecommunications, roads, railways, urban transportation, among others.
“The nation’s budget needs to be restructured to minimise its close to 80 per cent recurring expenditure, while government needs to do more to de-risk the environment to encourage investments and bring policies that give the private sector the confidence to do more,” he said.
Mr Mansur Ahmed, President, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), called for a working implementation framework within the right legal arrangement and backing, to ensure that the country’s infrastructural plans become a reality.
“Nigeria needs the right caliber of persons, right institutions and clearly defined regulatory environment backed by the law in line with best practices to make infrastructure work.
“Budgetary allocations for infrastructure can not work because even though the budget is now released in a timely manner, the release for funds is slow.
“I also object to pension funds being thrown into infrastructure, except with a workable and credible plan that would guarantee returns on implementation,” he said.
In spite of the present economic challenges in Nigeria, many African countries still look onto Nigeria as the country with the capacity to provide leadership in investments.They hinged their optimism to the fact that the country has the human and natural resources to sustain its leadership position in the continent.Marie-Jeanne Ntakirutimana, Ambassador of Burundi to Nigeria, while speaking recently on “Burundi as the Heart of Africa,” on the sideline of the country’s 60th independence anniversary, called on potential investors to invest in Burundi’s agriculture, mining and other sectors.The envoy described Burundi as a free country, where dreams could be achieved regardless of gender, political ideologies and religious beliefs.Ntakirutimana said: “Burundi wants to develop her agriculture sector, and I tell you, we have many kinds of produce. We do not have industries to transform them.“We have cassava, we need the processing industry to preserve them for a long time; that is why we need a lot of investors in agriculture.“We also need cement factories. Dangote cement is imported through Zambian, it is a very big cost. If the industry is implanted in Burundi, it will be good luck to us.”Similarly, Dr Benson Alfred Bana, Tanzanian High Commissioner to Nigeria, urged Nigerian investors and businesses to consider investing in Tanzania, whose GDP was projected to grow by 5.8 per cent in 2022.Bana spoke at the Nigeria-Tanzania Business Forum, organised by Tanzanian High Commission and Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI).He said that Tanzania remained a choice destination for investments due to its unprecedented political stability and peaceful transfer of power via credible, free and fair elections with almost zero cases of insecurity.He said that notwithstanding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the country’s GDP was projected to grow at 4.7 per cent in 2021 and 5.8 per cent by 2022.Bana said: “Tanzania is in the process of introducing direct flights from Dar es Salaam to Lagos, to significantly ease movement of goods, capital and services between the two countries.“Tanzania is aiming to become an industrialised economy and logistics hub by 2025, and in the spirit of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) we want to see Nigeria join the league of leading investors in the country,” he said.In the same vein, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, President, Dangote Group, represented by Mr. Mansur Ahmed, President, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), said that the potential for investment growth over the next 50 years across the world was in Africa, particularly Nigeria.According to the business mogul, Africa has the highest level of resources, population structure and a technology framework that supported investments and growth over a long period.“Our philosophy for investing in Africa is to build capacity, capability, and a business that understands the African market,” Dangote said.The President of LCCI, Mrs Toki Mabogunje, who spoke, stressed the need to sustain Nigeria’s leadership position on investment in Africa economic growth.According to her, the status as the continent’s biggest economy and most populous nation presented numerous opportunities for various African country investors to willingly establish bilateral cooperation with Nigeria.“More so, Nigeria’s near and medium-term economic prospects are quite bright with the International Monetary Fund projecting a growth rate of 2.5 per cent and 2.3 per cent in 2021 and 2022, respectively.“African countries need to do more business with one another, as this will advance the economic fortunes of the continent, and as a chamber, we reiterate our commitment to the promotion of trade and investments between Nigeria and other countries,” Mabogunje said.Dr Eromonsele Idahosa, the Chairman,Board of Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation-Americas (NIDO), U.S. Chapter, urged compatriots to always dedicate themselves to investment goals that could sustain Nigeria’s leadership in Africa.NIDO’s set goals include: engaging Nigerian community associations in Diaspora, contributing to nation-building through finance and expertise, as well as to provide a platform for members to participate in governance and industrial development of Nigeria.Idahosa said: “Although Nigeria is confronted with an existential crisis; we have a lot of work to do.“We invite other partners and stakeholders in the Nigerian project to join in carrying out this enormous task; this is not the time for cynicism and negativity.”Meanwhile, the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Mr Clem Agba, represented by Dr Philip Ugbodaga, his Special Assistant, at the first edition of the Europe Open Day celebration, explained that besides being Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria remains Africa’s largest economy, in spite of COVID-19 challenges.Agba said: “We have an estimated population of more than 200 million, which is expected to grow to more than 400 million by the year 2050, and to become the third most populous country in the world after China and India.“Government is doing this by vigorously pursuing special policies aimed at creating opportunities and avenues that can empower youths to contribute meaningfully to their communities and to the country.“The World Bank in a report some time ago stated that 74 per cent of the global youth population aged between 18 to 23 would be majorly in Nigeria and nine other countries over a period of 10 years from 2015 to 2025.”He assured that government would improve existing bilateral ties with other African countries, to achieve meaningful growth.Given the important leadership role Nigeria had played in the investment drive across the continent, analysts agreed that for the country to sustain its leading role, it must prioritise trade and investment cooperation across Africa. (NANFeatures)NewsSourceCredit: NAN
The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has tasked the Federal Government to speedily commence the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to support its industrialisation agenda and for competitiveness.
The President of MAN, Mr Mansur Ahmed, gave the charge at the11th Business Luncheon of the Apapa Branch Council of MAN on Thursday in Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the event had as its theme: “Improving Nigeria’s Manufacturers Competitiveness Within the Context of AFCFTA’s Implementation.”
Ahmed said the call became pertinent because the nation was not currently competitive enough to fully maximise and harness the benefits of the AfCFTA.
Ahmed, who was represented by the association’s Ikeja Branch Chairman, Mr Robert Ugboaja, said the reasons making the nation lack the competitiveness included lack of infrastructure such as electricity and the cost of money.
He said manufacturers in other countries, such as South Africa, already had some infrastructure including broadband, gas and electricity unlike in Nigeria.
“Almost all manufacturers have to provide their own electricity. To provide electricity, they have to buy generators and fuel them.
“A company here will have to generate it’s own water and pay government for generating the water,” he said.
Ahmed added that the nation need to look beyond the ease of doing business and tackle interest and exchange rates challenges.
“There is no way any of our manufacturers can source 100 per cent of their inputs locally. There are still some things that need to be imported,” he said.
The president said the association would continue its advocacy to ensure that the cost of doing business was reduced.
The Chairman of MAN, Apapa branch, Mr Frank Onyebu, also called on the Lagos State Government as the country’s number one commercial hub to work with the Federal Government to ensure the success of the AfCFTA implementation.
Onyebu added that the design of the AfCFTA reflected an explicit commitment to creating a framework for deeper socioeconomic integration that would enable trade, investment and mobility of people.
He urged manufacturers to embrace innovations, review their processes and re-strategise to aid their production mode and compete favourably in markets.
“There can be no sustainable industrial development without an efficient and sustainable energy system,” he said.
By Rukayat Moisemhe
The French Development Agency (AFD) has leveraged a total of US $ 70 million to finance renewable energy and efficient energy projects in Nigeria.
Mr. Chukwudumije Igwe, Member, Project and Structured Fice, Sub Sahara Africa, Access Bank, said this at the second edition of the Sustainable Use of Natural Resources and Energy Program (SUNREF) Nigeria Investor Conference Thursday in Lagos.
The Nigeria News Agency reports that AFD's US $ 70 million fund was to be disbursed jointly by Access Bank Plc and United Bank for Africa (UBA).
Igwe said the fund should meet Nigeria's energy needs and reduce environmental pollution.
He said that SUNREF is committed to sponsoring innovative, technically eligible, energy efficient and renewable projects.
“SUNREF is a fund made available by AFD to support renewable and energy-efficient projects.
“Access Bank is one of the disbursing banks and we look forward to reviewing and accessing projects that meet the eligibility and risk criteria.
“The total fund size is US $ 70 million and has been shared between Access Bank and UBA and we are looking for eligible projects to disburse this fund.
“We know that a large part of the SUNREF project is made up of energy and renewable energy projects and we know how critical infrastructure is for Nigeria and the federal government cannot do it alone.
“The private sector is essential and we also know that closing this gap would involve the private sector and development finance institutions.
"That is why it is very critical and we hope the fund will fill a large part of the country's infrastructure deficit," he said.
The team leader, SUNREF Nigeria, Mr. Javier Betancourt, noted that the renewable energy sector has so far remained forgotten by officials.
He said the event was to bring together investors, manufacturers and business leaders to have a conversation to address issues in the renewable energy sector regarding fication and policies.
Betancourt said access to the tax authorities to finance renewable energy projects required long-term funding not available in the country.
However, he stressed that the sector had become a more important subject, hence the involvement of banks in the matter.
“The US $ 70 million is largely not enough, but a start because what Nigeria needs is billions as more than 80 million people in Nigeria are not electrified at all while the remaining 100 million are somewhat electrified.
“The investment required is huge and $ 70 million isn't even starting to cover it, but it helps get things going.
“This fund that we are providing will be for the longer term with a minimum of five years and it is concessional loan rates that would help tie up these projects.
“It is difficult to estimate the exact amount the country needs from the renewable energy sector to fill the country's energy gap, but I can say that Nigeria needs an additional 14 GW of energy, an investment of about $ 10 billion in total.
“$ 70 million is a drop in the ocean, but it's a big drop because it will help this sector get the proper funding,” he said.
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otuba Adeniyi Adebayo, represented by the Deputy Director of Industrial Development, Mr. John Opaluwa, reaffirmed the ministry's commitment to attract investors to the country to stimulate industrial activities and economic growth.
He reaffirmed the need for economic leaders to prioritize substantial investments in the implementation of renewable energy solutions and energy efficiency measures.
“Rapid population growth and increased industrial activities have led to a significant increase in energy consumption, resulting in increased environmental pollution and economic hardship.
"Renewable energies help assess alternative energy sources that are more sustainable and reduce dependence on fossil fuels," he said.
The President of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Mr Mansur Ahmed, said the poor state of energy services over the years had limited the manufacturing sector, resulting in low levels of competitiveness globally.
Ahmed, welcoming the initiative, said it would lower the cost of doing business in the country and urged manufacturers to take advantage of the financing facility.
The Dangote Group says it will continue to partner with research institutions for advancement of indigenous technology and national development.
Mr Mansur Ahmed, Group Executive Director, Dangote Group, made the pledge on Thursday in Lagos.
He spoke during a study tour of the Research and Development Steering Committee of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) to the Dangote Refinery, Petrochemicals and Fertiliser projects in Ibeju Lekki, Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the delegation, comprising top academicians and researchers, was led on tour by the Executive Secretary of TETFUND, Prof. Suleiman Bogoro.
Ahmed said collaboration between the government, academia and industry was needed to set Nigeria on the path of industrial development.
He said :”The Dangote Group believes that there needs to be a synergy between the researchers in the universities and the industries, like what is found in advanced economies.
“The industry and the academia need to work together to identify issues and problems that are looking for solutions and the researchers will now come back with their findings and proposed solutions.
” If the solution meets the expectations of the industry, you will get the two working together to find home grown solutions to our problems.
“I think the idea initiated now by TETFUND is a welcome development and we should make sure that whatever research that is going on in our universities is research that is useful and can be practicalised in our industries.
” This will expand the scope of indigenous technology.”
Ahmed emphasised that the Dangote Refinery project would generate over 250, 000 direct and indirect jobs for Nigerians when completed.
According to him, part of the collaboration is to ensure that Nigerian graduates are equipped with the set skills to immediately fit into the industry upon employment, instead of wasting more years in training them.
Earlier, Bogoro said the visit was aimed at bridging the gap between the industry and the academia, adding that the committee was made up of over 100 eminent scholars and researchers.
“This committee has 13 sub-committees and today four of them are here on this visit.
‘We have the Engineering, Bio-resource and Environment, Energy as well as Petroleum, Mining and Extraction sub-committees.
” We couldn’t have started this tour better than visiting Dangote Group which is the most innovative indigenous company.
“We believe that through researches and collaboration with the industry, we will be able to apply science and technology to improve our country, ” Bogoro said.
Edited By: Oluwole Sogunle