By Oladipupo Awojobi
The over-reliance of Nigerians on imported goods, and the neglect of locally manufactured goods has become a source of concern to many people and organisations in the country.
It is quite obvious that local manufacturing companies have struggled to stay in business due to the lack of appetite for locally manufactured goods and Nigeria as a country has been saddled with a huge import bill in terms of balance of payment, no wonder the value of naira is dwindling on a daily basis.
The painful effect of this addiction has been the creation of an import-based economy with little footprints in the local manufacturing sector.
In the days of oil boom, the Nigerian economy was able to cope with the huge import bill and the resulting demand for the dollar. With the recent drop in the global price of crude oil, the government has been struggling to cope with the demand for the dollar because Nigeria’s income stream is based on proceeds generated from the sale of crude oil.
As a way of reducing the demand for the dollar, the government has come up with strategies such as the ban on importation of some goods and the exclusion of some other goods from the Central Bank of Nigeria’s foreign exchange purchase portal.
With the current ban on some imported goods, Nigerians have resorted to patronising locally manufactured products. This is definitely good for local manufacturers and the Nigerian economy at large.
Prior to the restriction on the importation of foreign goods, various reasons such as quality and pricing had been adduced for the lack of appetite for locally manufactured goods. Thus, there is an assumption that for locally manufactured goods to sit well with the Nigerian consumer, the goods should be affordable and be of good quality.
However, after a careful investigation of goods made in Nigeria, it was observed that there are a lot of good quality locally manufactured products but Nigerians still prefer to patronise foreign products because, either they doubt the quality of the product or they are unaware of the existence of affordable local substitutes.
It is this gap that LMdb.com.ng intends to bridge. LMdb.com.ng is owned by LMdb Limited (a privately owned Nigerian company) and is aimed at increasing the awareness of locally manufactured goods to the Nigerian public as well as interested customers and consumers abroad.
The company offers an online service (web-based and mobile apps) that provides a platform for the quality review of locally manufactured products by consumers. Consumers of these products are encouraged to rate them as well as comment on their experience while using the products.
These ratings would enable other customers make a decision in terms of purchasing the product. Manufacturers of these products would also be aware of areas, where they need to improve based on consumer reviews. This would help small and medium scale producers acquire a wider reach.
LMdb.com.ng also organises an annual event, where local manufacturers with outstanding products would be acknowledged.
According to the co-founders of LMdb Limited, Obinna Ukwa and Ashimizo Afadameh, adding products to the website takes a few seconds and users are encouraged to add products they are sure are locally made as well as rate and comment on them based on their personal experience for potential consumers to see.
“It is important to note that anybody can add any product as long as they have a picture(s) and details of the product. Producers and well-wishers can share LMdb product pages to their social media page so their friends can see a direct link to review these products.
“We encourage state and local governments to work with us by providing an upload centre in states and local governments with a lot of local manufacturing companies (from small to large scale). These upload centres would provide an avenue for producers with no access to internet, get their products uploaded to LMdb.com.ngfor free,” the duo had said in a statement.
They made it clear that producers would be encouraged to bring their products or a picture of it as well as specified details of these products.
With this development, Nigeria has finally found a platform where locally made products are made available to the public, and where the consumer’s voice regarding a product can now be heard.
There is no doubt that this is one of the ways the country can save itself from the serious economic crisis it is currently experiencing and a good way forward for the country to attain its much pronounced development goals and aspirations.