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Manufacturing sector in Nigeria and the reality of a “new normal”

The rise in unemployment caused by the pandemic might affect enthusiasm towards the event.

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Manufacturing sector in Nigeria and the reality of a "new normal"

Across the globe, there is a pervading awareness that things will never be the same in the post-pandemic era. Already, some business ventures that were once considered the ‘crème’ of the global economy have taken serious hits in unimaginable measures, and some of the little ones which were regarded as below the rung, are fast rising to match up.

With the new social rules in place, some businesses have come to the sad realisation that they may have to remain closed for much longer than they expected. Even for those businesses that have been allowed to reopen their operations as the world enters a phased and gradual reopening, obvious adjustments still have to be made – including limited physical contact, among others.

In a recent interview, the President of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Engineer Mansur Ahmed, noted that these new developments have added significant complications to the manufacturing processes and operations.

READ MORE: Manufacturing: Activity levels pick up albeit readings still below water

For one, the 8-week nation-wide lockdown kept most manufacturing companies shut, or at best operating at significantly lower capacity for the best part of Q2. The result of this was reflected in the sector’s indices, both in terms of output and employment.

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Resuming operations after the lockdown, the manufacturers have had to deal with the challenges of a completely changed system of operation–one which we now commonly recognise as the “new normal.”

A major change in operation can be seen in the sourcing for raw materials. Besides having to deal with the immediate impact of the border closure on operations, there is now the uncertainty of foreign exchange and its impact on the costs of importation (or smuggling of materials when borders are closed).

Nairametrics wrote about a recent CNBC interview where Partner and Head of Consumer & Industrial Markets at KPMG Nigeria, Obi Goodluck, stated that most Nigerian manufacturers had been compelled to source raw materials locally or risk being shut down completely.

READ MORE: COVID-19: The ‘New Normal’ for Nigerian aviation industry

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Goodluck explained that prior to the pandemic, most of the Nigerian manufacturing companies imported a significant percentage of their materials from China, but the pandemic had disrupted that supply chain thus compelling them to look for alternatives.

“Specifically from the Nigerian point of view, we will no longer reply on importation of raw materials. As it were, this pandemic started from China and over 80% of Nigeria’s raw material imports come from China and the Asian countries. With the lockdown even in China, that became an issue. As such, companies had to come up with alternative and innovative means of raw material sourcing. Those who already imported raw materials prior to the lockdown relied on their stock until they ran out…”

These alternatives are not just intended to serve as an immediate alternative but can forestall the possibility of such in the future.

Manufacturing companies have also had to rethink the way they transport goods to their customers, in view of the non-pharmaceutical safety rules put in place. One of the regulations in place presently is ensuring minimal physical contact in the processes.

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By implications, companies have to rework the way they move their products to the consumers and this has largely impacted on the logistics costs. It also means that deliveries and logistics is ‘the next big thing’ in the Nigerian market.

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READ MORE: Innoson reacts to FG order to relocate manufacturing plant to Lagos, Kaduna in order not to lose license 

Having to deal with all these changes at a time when thousands have lost their jobs and primary sources of income is even more of a difficult situation. People generally have less purchasing power now than they did before the pandemic, and so weighing of priorities and opportunity costs will always come to play.

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Worse still, they would be paying even more now for the same items, given the extra factors at play in the production process. For instance 1kg sachet of Dangote granulated sugar which sold for N250 before the lockdown, now sells between N800 and N900 per unit, while the 250g sachet which sold for N100 before the lockdown now sells between N250 to N300.

Right now, the manufacturing sector is in that small space between the rock and a hard place, and manufacturers are going to have to make some difficult decisions going forward.

One suggestion that comes highly recommended among experts in the industry is backward integration. At the CBN roundtable discussion in April this year, Nigeria’s richest man, Aliko Dangote had also suggested in his keynote address that backward integration was about the surest way to hasten the long-awaited diversification of the economy.

READ ALSO: CAC: Certificate of incorporation will now be delivered via email or courier

There were concerns about how fast the industry could integrate with the agricultural sector so that more of the local produce went into the industries, but the manufacturers were optimistic that this could be worked out in time to enable them enjoy waivers and benefits in the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).

It was agreed that the backward integration would require some support moves from the government in creating the right financing and regulatory environment for industries, so that they could integrate more local input in their processes and products and strengthen the supply chain.

READ ALSO: Analysis: Nestlé strong but exposed.

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The MAN president had already assured that the CBN promised that investment in the sector would go towards supporting manufacturers to go into backward integration. If the financial sector could also review its regulations to capture current realities and the needs of the manufacturing sector, more could be achieved in less time.

The Economic Sustainability Plan of the federal government also captures quite a lot to show that the manufacturing industry has a place in the government’s plan, but a seamless implementation remains to be seen. The struggle to ensure that Nigeria produces what Nigerians consume is still on.

In light of new realities, the Unified Exchange Rate proposed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) could also help to create some stability in the FX. Once the exchange rate is more certain and stable, businesses and investors can make definite plans on imports and exports.

Instead of the current situation where the manufacturing sector contributes less than 10% of the GDP, Nigeria is definitely capable of having a manufacturing sector that contributes as much as 25% or more to her GDP, and this should be the target.

Ruth Okwumbu has a MSc. and BSc. in Mass Communication from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and Delta state university respectively. Prior to her role as analyst at Nairametrics, she had a progressive six year writing career.As a Business Analyst with Narametrics, she focuses on profiles of top business executives, founders, startups and the drama surrounding their successes and challenges. You may contact her via [email protected]

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COVID-19: FG to launch Rapid Response Register for urban poor

The FG has moved to inaugurate an emergency intervention database for the poor residing in urban centres and affected by the pandemic.

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Nigeria blows past 40,000 COVID-19 cases

The Federal Government has announced that it would inaugurate a COVID-19 Rapid Response Register (RRR), which would be a health emergency response for the poor living in urban centers that have been affected by the pandemic.

This was disclosed by Mr. Joe Abuku, Communications Manager, National Social Safety Nets Coordinating Office (NASSCO), on Sunday in Abuja.

Mr. Abuku said the register would identify Nigerians that have been made poorer due to the pandemic, targeting mainly Traders and SME Owners.

He added that the scheme was designed by the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development, through NASSCO, in partnership with the World Bank, and will be inaugurated by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, on Tuesday, at Transcorp Hilton, Abuja.

What Joe Abuku is saying

  • “This register is being built by NASSCO as an expansion of the existing National Social Safety Nets Project (NASSP). It targets small business owners, street vendors, petty traders, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), and service providers.
  • “Others are low wage employed individuals and families, including daily wage-based laborers, urban poor and destitute (persons with disabilities), and vulnerable families in slum areas, affected by the pandemic.
  • “The category of Nigerians who will be in this register is typically the urban/semi-urban poor engaged in the informal sectors of the economy, who lost their source of livelihood due to the impact of COVID-19 on businesses and jobs. The Federal Government plans to extend cash transfers to households in this register for a period of 12 months.”

He also stated that NASSCO would use geographical satellite sensing to locale the wards where the urban poor live, as the targeting of the poor would be done via cell phone Short Messaging Service (SMS) technology that allows residents of targeted communities register to be assisted by following simple steps using USSD codes.

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The SMS approach would be integrated through data gathered by the National Living Standard Survey Assessments and would be complemented by existing databases of Non-Governmental Organisations and local self-help-support groups.

  • “Mobile phone numbers of those deemed eligible for assistance will be linked to digitized bank accounts to receive cash support, under an expanded cash transfer program of the Federal Government. These cash payments are designed to boost consumption for these households, build their resilience, and in some cases, inject fresh capital into small businesses.”

What you should know

  • Nairametrics reported last year that the World Bank said the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic could make an additional 5 million Nigerians poor.
  • The Poverty and Shared Prosperity Report 2020 by the World Bank Group indicate that between 88 million and 115 million people could fall back into extreme poverty as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • This is in addition to an increase between 23 million and 35 million in 2021, potentially bringing the total number of new people living in extreme poverty to between 110 million and 150 million.

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Covid-19: Nigeria needs serious controls not a second lockdown – House Committee on Education

A member of the lower legislative house has advised the government to focus on serious control measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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Professor Julius Ihonvbere, Chairman, House Committee on Basic Education & Services, said the Federal and States governments should not impose a lockdown, but rather focus on serious control measures to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

He disclosed this during an interview with Channels TV on Sunday evening.

  • “I do not think we need a national lockdown now, I think what we need now is the first instance is serious controls. Let me say that the Governor of Lagos is the ‘poster man’ for the fight against covid-19. If we see you outside without a mask, we will arrest you and charge you to court, that is the kind of courage we need.”

He cited serious controls like buying hand sanitizers and washing materials to schools and urban areas in Lagos as part of the controls that should be commended.

  • “The issue is not a lockdown. If you lock people down, and you are not doing the right thing inside the lockdown, the cases will still increase. They (masses) will break it and will challenge it as they did during the first lockdown. So, the real issue is to bring out the policies and implement them.
  • “The Federal Ministry as a supervisor, yes states have the autonomy, but we give the state’s money from UBEC every year, we give them billions, what are they doing with it?

He urged that the FG should investigate what States use their Universal Basic Education Funds for, as Nigeria is in a time for “retooling and repurpose” and UBEC funding should be utilized in the fight against Covid-19.

What you should know 

  • Nairametrics reported last week that the Federal Government said Nigeria is not contemplating another lockdown and urged Nigerians to ignore social media posts circulating the possibility of another lockdown.

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Covid-19: Ghana’s healthcare could be overwhelmed – President Akufo-Addo

Ghanaian President has warned that he might impose a partial lockdown as healthcare facilities are overwhelmed by growing cases of coronavirus.

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Africa: Ghanaian inflation rate drops for the 3rd straight month to 10.1%, Ghana’s cedi becomes investors’ best choice ahead Nigeria’s naira, Ghana restricts flights into country after detecting Coronavirus but Nigeria ignores measure

The Ghanaian Government has warned that Ghana’s second wave of the coronavirus pandemic is rising fast and could overwhelm its already extended Covid-19 treatment centres.

This was disclosed by President Nana Akufo-Addo on Sunday in a Reuters report.

The Ghanaian President warned that he might impose a partial lockdown in the coming weeks as cases might reach peak levels.

Active cases in Ghana climbed to 1,924 from about 900 since the 5th of January. He also confirmed that the new variant was present in the country, as cases were imported from people entering Ghana.

The President said,

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  • “Our COVID-19 treatment centres have gone from having zero patients to now being full because of the upsurge in infections. At this current rate, our healthcare infrastructure will be overwhelmed.
  • “Work is ongoing to determine the presence and extent of spread of the new variants in the general population.”

What you should know

  • Nairametrics reported that the Federal Government also alerted Nigerians that hospitals across the country were running out of facilities to handle more serious cases of coronavirus infections, as the virus is spreading fast with mild symptoms in some victims and severe illnesses and death in others.

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