Nigerian Manufacturers Must Embrace Industrial Revolution, Says Osinbajo

Yemi Osinbajo

Dike Onwuamaeze

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has called on the Nigerian manufacturing sector to embrace the emerging Fourth Industrial Revolution and the current trends in technological innovations.

Osinbajo made this call yesterday in Lagos at the opening ceremony of the fifth Nigeria Manufacturing and Equipment Exhibition (NME Expo) with the theme: ‘The Fourth Industrial Revolution and the Nigerian Manufacturing sector’, organised by the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC).

Osinbajo, who was represented by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Niyi Adebayo, said Nigeria is at a crucial point in its economic history at the emergence of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

He stated that the industrial revolution would fundamentally alter the way Nigerians live, work and relate to one another.

“Also we are at the threshold of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement that will reposition the Nigerian market and the way trade is carried out in Africa.

“We are living in an exciting time. The manufacturing sector must prepare itself for the fourth industrial revolution that is coming in the age of AfCFTA. I am extremely thrilled to see that the theme of this expo speaks on the changes that we must expect.

“Already, artificial intelligence is all around us from self-driven cars and drones to software that can automatically translate languages. “Nigerians are the second largest users of internet and mobile telephones with about 117 million at the last count. I look forward to getting feedback on your deliberation on how we will prepare for the changes that lie ahead and make the most of our existing advantages,” Osinbajo said.

He said nothing has the potential to drive Nigeria’s development as the manufacturing sector, and is therefore at the centre of President Muhammadu Buhari’s strategic plan to attain sustainable growth and fulfill our aspiration to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years.

According to the President of MAN, Mr. Mansur Ahmed, the theme of the expo was informed by the observed global trends and current developments experienced in some developing nations, which have used industrialisation as a growth tool to drive and transform their economies

Ahmed noted that the emergence of new technology, changing markets and the upcoming AfCFTA have called for stakeholders collaboration to anticipate and response appropriately to the evolving manufacturing eco-system, which is being ushered in the rapid adoption of these new and innovative technologies.

According to him, “These new technologies which are largely driven by digital revolution such as robotics, cloud computing, big data, artificial intelligence, additive manufacturing are influencing manufacturing input and output.

“Ahead of the implementation of the AfCFTA, which will open our manufacturing sector to a much larger market, Nigeria manufacturers have to adopt the use of new technology to compete favourably with other nations that will be participating in the free trade market.”

He, however, pointed out that inadequate energy supply for industrial use has rendered Nigerian manufacturers uncompetitive.

“The country’s current energy projection and currently generated supply are below the expected level required to drive an industrialised economy.

“For manufacturers, studies have consistently confirmed that energy is the single most important constraint to productivity and competitiveness of the sector in Nigeria. The impact is felt across micro, small and medium as well as large manufacturers. The vision of industrialised Nigeria would remain an illusion until we resolve the electric power challenge in our economy,” he said.

Also, the Director-General of RMRDC, Professor Hassaini D. Ibrahim, said the expo was an opportunity to showcase their innovations and products.

Ibrahim maintained that the expo was created to serve as a platform for manufacturers to source raw materials, obtain first-hand information on research breakthroughs by research and development institutions in the country as well as enhance efficient synergy among the entire manufacturing value chain.