Economic uncertainties hit industrial capacity utilisation

MAN President, Dr. Frank Jacobs

MAN President, Dr. Frank Jacobs

•MAN disclaims membership of counterfeiting firm 

The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has hinged the drop in the real sector’s capacity utilisation in first half of the year on growing economic uncertainties, occasioned by electioneering activities and policy implementation inertia under the current dispensation in the country.

The manufacturers said the final figures of the capacity utilisation during the period under review were yet to be finally collated but provisional analyses showed a decline in the industrial output.

According to MAN, activities of counterfeiters have equally been responsible for low patronage of made-in-Nigeria goods, as well as low capacity utilisation being witnessed in the manufacturing sector.

Meanwhile, MAN has dissociated itself from activities and claim of a firm believed to have been involved in counterfeiting and importation of sub-standard brands of BIC products.

In a chat with The Guardian, MAN President, Dr. Frank Jacobs, noted that the current low capacity utilisation in the manufacturing sector can be addressed with good infrastructure, as well as policies that would aid production of quality products in the country.

He said: “As you are aware, a new government just came into power and when such changes occur, you do not expect businesses to move on very well.

At present, I believe the capacity utilisation may have dropped a little because of the uncertainties surrounding the new government in power.

In terms of the market share being taken away, I cannot give you an exact figure on that but all I can say that for any given industry that its product heavily faked to the point that they are unable to sell, their sales volume will drop and their capacity utilisation will equally drop.

My experience in manufacturing for over 30 years and also as the president of MAN, I can tell you that one of the major challenges affecting our members is the faking and counterfeiting of our products.

Sometimes, these unscrupulous people do this in collaboration with some companies ‎in Asia, notably China where they will go and produce Nigerian products in lower quality and bring them in and repackage them thereby making our own indigenous products more uncompetitive.

We think that it is important that government looks at this issue and do something fast about it”. Recently, the Nigeria Ball Point Pen Industries Plc, (NIPEN), makers of BIC products including shavers and pen, had raised concerns on the rising level of adulteration and counterfeiting of its products by Bendusco Industries Limited, thus leading to NIPEN and other local manufacturers losing half of ‎their market share in the country.

NIPEN through its National Sales Manager, NIPEN, Fatai Olasore, had during a visit to SON office in Lagos, stated the firm’s agitation was to put an end to the firm’s being adulterated by Bendusco Industries Limited for the past 12 years. ‎

He added that his company has lost so much‎ patronage receiving complaints on the quality of its products. ‎ Disclaiming activities of manufacturers said to have been involved in a recent protest against SON in Awka, Jacobs said: “I heard about this protest‎ and also made efforts to check into our records and to the best of my knowledge, we do not have any member of such in our membership register.

There is no such name as Bendusco. There is no such name among our members. So if he says he is representing MAN, we are saying we do not know him.

Whatever he says, is not the position of MAN. In our system in MAN, we do not go on demonstrations to push out points. We have channels to address our issues. What he is doing is entirely different from what MAN does and of course, he is not a member of MAN. “SON’s activities cannot be a threat especially to the manufacturers.

Their activities are helping us in improving the quality and standard of our products to become competitive at the international market”.

Today, manufacturing should not be only for Nigeria, we must produce to sell these products overseas and be competitive at the international market.

I do remember that recently, the European Union (EU) came up with a programme on a national quality infrastructure and the SON is in the vanguard of this programme.

It was SON that actually engineered it and we are the beneficiaries of this programme and it is called the Nigeria quality infrastructure project.

We remain grateful to SON for initiating that programme because it is in the best interest of manufacturers and the Nigerian economy at large”.

According to NIPEN, the counterfeiter on a yearly basis, pushes in between 26 million ‎and 30 million units of fake BIC shaving sticks into the market, thereby taking a valuable share of the market share and rubbing off the consumers of their hard earned money. “We are appealing to SON not to be intimidated into giving up.

We are solidly behind you and we are also assuring you that we will not s‎pare any effort to ensure justice is done.‎ How can a counterfeiter of an original product have the audacity to confront ‎ a constituted authority by organising a protest.

This is unacceptable in a country that there is law. “We were losing 60 per ‎cent of our market share to the activities of counterfeiters, but I can tell you now that because of the activities of SON presently, the proliferation of fake ball-point pen and shaving sticks has reduced considerably,” Olashore added. ‎

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