The federal government is to review its tariff and waivers regime to help local manufacturers
| By Anayo Ezugwu | Feb. 2, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT |
IN its effort to boost local production and improve capacity utilisation of manufacturing companies in the country, the federal government has concluded plans to review tariffs and waivers-grant to local manufacturers. Omobola Johnson, minister of communications and technology, during the inauguration of the EMV certified smart card manufacturing plant of Secure ID Limited in Lagos, on January 19, said the administration had implemented policies to drive the growth of innovative products that would further aid the realisation of a digital economy.
She said that with the cards market still growing as a result of growing needs of the teeming population, it has become necessary to discourage excessive importation of services that could be offered in the country. She added that the commissioning of the factory was a concrete result of the present administration’s transformation agenda, stressing that government was unrelenting in its drive to encourage local investors to remain competitive in the country through favourable policy formulation and implementation.
Johnson said that capacity utilisation of factories was hinged on the ability to increase local content and boost patronage of goods and services being offered. “What we are witnessing is the result of a collaborative effort between the ministries of Finance, Communications Technology and Industry, Trade and Investment. Government has done its part in making the communications technology sector attractive by making tariffs commercially uncompetitive for importers, especially in areas where the country has capacity. We need to support these industries through increased patronage if they have to thrive in their businesses,” she said.
Also speaking at the event, Rasheed Olaoluwa, managing director, Bank of Industry, BOI, said the company had done very well and had also been ISO certified by credible international players in the industry, saying that it is in line with the Nigerian industrial Revolution Plan, NIRP. “This is the first of its kind in sub Saharan Africa. The plant has been certified by all international players. It has a capacity to produce 200 million cards in a year. It also has the capacity to do any bank payment card, provide SIM cards for the telecom sector and a high security card to play a significant role in Nigeria’s identity card project,” he said.
According to Olaoluwa, the BOI has been able to support Secure ID in providing long-term facility, and expressed hope and confidence in the company’s efficient and effective long term operations for years to come. “The commissioning is in the heart of BOI making an impact in our economic development. It is 100 percent Nigerian owned, about 95 percent of the employees are Nigerians with staff strength of 350 people.”
Adedotun Sulaimon, chairman, Secure ID Limited, said the journey to the commissioning had not been easy, but stressed that the company was dogged and determined to get to where it is today. He said the facility was a state-of-the-art outfit which boasts of quality and well trained staff to make it one of the top three smart services providers in the whole continent. “Our staff are well trained, positioned and able to maintain our machines in the most efficient and effective manner,” he said.
On her part, Kofo Akinkugbe, managing director, Secure ID Limited, said the first challenge the company had was building a local company to run on a global standard, stressing that the company had to change the orientation of its people to believe exporting products and services from Nigeria was possible. She also said the infrastructural deficit in the country was still a bottleneck hindering local production, but expressed hope that the federal government is on the right track to address the challenge in no distant time. “We know that the federal government is a huge supporter of local content and we believe infrastructure issues will be resolved at some point soon,” she said.
She pointed out the need for smart services, which she said was key to Nigeria’s economic growth and security, considering the population of the country, adding that Nigeria could no longer depend on imports. “We cannot continue to depend on importation and not just import, but import of technology and skills. We must develop the skills in our people and train ourselves to be able to make products with technology that is tailored to our environment. We have backward integrated in making the plastic itself in producing smart cards and our first job in this newly commissioned plant is from a bank in Ghana. We have the capacity to serve Nigeria and other parts of Africa,” she said.