Olusegun Aganga, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, has directed all the electricity distribution companies (DISCOs) in the country to patronise local manufacturers in line with policies put in place by government, designed to ensure accelerated development of the industrial sector.
The minister who disclosed this at a one day stakeholders’ forum on meters/transformer manufacturing in Nigeria organised by the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment in collaboration with Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) in Abuja, said his ministry has received series of complaints on non-patronage and the influx of meters and transformers into the country by local manufacturers of these items
He said the purpose of the meeting was to bring together stakeholders to deliberate on the challenges confronting the sub-sector and to come up with ideas and workable plans for the formulation of appropriate strategies and policies to support the sector.
According to the minister, who was represented at the event by Awobokun Omotanwa, director industrial development and inspectorate in the ministry, the misconception by Nigerians, that locally made products are sub-standard even when it is obvious that imported ones are inferior, needs to be addressed, using procurement regime as a tool to develop local patronage. “Let us collectively ensure that we use local patronage as anchor to improve standards of Nigerian goods and services,” he said.
Aganga added that for Nigerian industries to thrive, “we need to support a strong and growing local demand. It is essential to know that our local market provides a strong base from which Nigerian products can refine their standards, build a strong base, and then subsequently proceed into the global export markets.”
He also commended the NERC and other stakeholders for their support and understanding in organising the meeting to initiate sustainable strategies and policies that will address the challenges confronting the meter and transformer manufacturers in the country.
The Minister added that both the manufacturers and the distribution companies will collaborate with each other to strive to make meters and transformer subsector a prosperous industry in the country.
Muideen Adebayo, secretary, Electricity Meters Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, said their members out of sheer patriotism and numerous challenges confronting manufacturers had undertaken undaunted risk with borrowed funds on high interest rate to establish world class factories in Nigeria adding that local manufacturers now have production capacity of 1.2 million meters per annum with room for future expansion.
He urged government to create and make available, at two per cent, a special intervention fund in form of soft loans to the local electricity meter manufacturers in order to create more jobs for Nigerians, boost the annual revenue earnings of Nigeria and curb capital flight to their counterparts from China.