Following are the details of the news:

From every indication, efforts by the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) aimed at improving raw materials availability in the country as inputs to industries to boost local manufacturing and productivity, appears to have found a berth with the nation’s apex manufacturing umbrella body, the Manufacturers association of Nigeria (MAN), who, led by its newly appointed Director-General, visited the DG of the Council, Professor Hussaini Doko Ibrahim, officially to revive  partnership with the Council  in the areas of information on raw materials availability.

Speaking during the visit, the MAN DG, Segun Ajayi-Kadiri, said MAN is to collaborate with the Council to conduct a survey on raw materials availability and utilization in the country to guide local sourcing activities by the organized private sector, emphasizing that the Council is an ideal partner to drive development of manufacturing so as to ensure that Nigeria maximizes the full potentials of its raw materials endowments.

In this regard, the MAN DG requested the Council’s involvement in the activities of MAN that relates to development of raw materials sourcing and utilization including attendance at MAN’s sectorial meetings.

The MAN DG also commended the Council for supporting the Association noting that the Council stands in a good stead to transform the fortunes of the nation’s manufacturing sector, saying that the Council’s involvement in the mix will be an asset that will help realize the objectives of the Association. Says he.

“Now that the environment is so difficult, what we have focused upon is how to drive down our cost structure. And we need to do this because all around us, competition is closing in. If we say we are not able to compete with America, Europe and Asia, who are we going to tell that we cannot compete against our African bothers? We are the biggest economy in Africa, so we don’t have any reason not to compete. We are the biggest economy in Africa and thus we must do the best to face challenges.”

On raw materials supply to the industries, the MAN DG called out the council for a review on a compendium of raw materials which was earlier published by the Council in 2016 to accommodate new and advanced materials that may have been developed over the years: “As far back as 2016, we did have a list of raw materials that was published by raw materials at that time, and you gave an impression that it would be reviewed over.

Mr. Ajayi therefore said the essence of the visit was to reinforce friendship between MAN and the Council and to identify areas of prospective collaboration to develop the Nations raw materials as industrial inputs for the manufacturing industries in Nigeria.

The MAN DG also called for an exchange of experts from the Council and MAN to help with research and development of raw materials to feed the industries even as he noted that the country can leverage on its potentials to cut costs of production.

“Your Council has done well in terms of assisting our members. Now that the environment is so difficult, the focus of MAN is how to drive down the cost structure of local manufacturing in Nigeria in the face of rising global competition. We are the biggest economy in Africa and so we have to sit up and address our challenges.

And we must be able to hit the ground running in terms of our production processes. One of the areas that we have identified to drive down the cost and increase the competitiveness of our industries is to take advantage of our local raw materials availability so that we can guarantee our foreign exchange reserves. So our cordial relationship with the Council, we believe, will be an added advantage in this regard” he said.

He gave instances on the profitability of local raw materials sourcing with cement which he stated had been developed by previous administrations in the Council to the extent that Nigeria today had become a net export of cement due to the capacity already developed within the sector.

He said Nigerian manufacturers were even more desperate now for raw materials in the face of the new African Continental Free trade Area (AFCTA) to which Nigeria is a signatory, saying that MAN was ever ready to work with the Council to develop raw materials for its members and reduce their costs of production

The MAN DG further invited the Council to partner with it in organizing the annual Nigeria Process Equipment expo co-located with NIRAM. He said currently that the NIRAM expo was facing some logistics problems which made it impossible for MAN to continue with the expo. He therefore said the Council can participate in the Made in Nigeria fair which is being organized at the same venue even as he announced that the 3-day expo will feature raw materials exhibitions, process equipment and technologies including displays of machineries and components both local and continental.

“In recent times our NIRAM has run into troubled-water. First COVID 19 didn’t help, and so we had to delay the hosting; and then, we were looking forward to hosting it this year. Again, we had some challenges. We lost the services of the main consultant to the event due to earlier disagreements”.

Responding, the RMRDC DG, Professor Hussaini Doko Ibrahim stressed the importance of the proposed collaboration stating that only a concerted effort between the two bodies can yield result in the quest for  unified  course of action for the seamless sourcing, development and utilization of raw materials by the nation’s manufacturing sector.

Professor Ibrahim said he would support the survey on raw materials availability even as he averred that the survey report will help identify gaps in raw materials which will help manufacturers plan their efforts in this regard as well as obtain specifications for raw materials utilization.

The RMRDC DG added that the Council’s deletion programme will help local manufacturers in the development and utilization of local raw materials as substitute for imported varieties as well as boost the economy by reducing importation. He said the council’s deletion would be beneficial to MAN and its members as it aims to develop local capacities in local sourcing of raw materials.

Professor Ibrahim also volunteered that the council would release its offices situated at no. 1 admiralty way, Lekki Phase 1, Lagos to MAN for their sectorial meetings saying, that the council’s gesture will cement the relationship between, MAN and the council.

On the Issues of the African Continental Free Trade area (AFCFTA), Professor Ibrahim confirmed that there was a need for the country to strengthen the manufacturing sector by providing the necessary support in terms of infrastructure and required impetus and called on the concerned authorities of government to check smuggling among other things.

He further stated that the Council cannot exist without its partners which includes the manufacturers and that the Council would join forces with MAN to conduct a survey of Nigerian raw materials which would show the challenges facing the manufacturing sector in raw materials sourcing