he Federal Government has reiterated its commitment to providing support and enabling environment for local industries to enable them overcome challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and stimulate economic growth.
Amb. Mariam Katagum, the Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investments made this known during the event to commemoration of the 2020 Africa Industrialisation Day (AID) on Tuesday in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the United Nations in 1989, declared Nov. 20 every year as Africa Industrialisation Day.
The theme for this year’s edition is “Inclusive and Sustainable Industrialisation in the AfCFTA and COVID 19 Era”.
It is organised by the Federal Ministry of Industry Trade and Investments (FMITI) in collaboration with United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and the Organised Labour.
According to the minister, the Federal Government understands the economic challenges brought on businesses by the COVID-19 pandemic and is working toward ameliorating it by providing enabling environment in terms of viable policies, grants and infrastructure.
“The FMITI is a willing partner in providing the necessary enabling environment that will further stimulate industrialisation, accelerate domestic and foreign direct investments.
“It will as well as ensure a coordinated and integrated approach to Nigeria’s Trade and Industrial policy.
“This year’s event provides the opportunity to deeply reflect on the state of the industrial sector and the apparent weaknesses which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It has become critical, more than ever before for governments at all levels in Africa to dedicate more time, energy and resources for the growth and development of all categories of industries in the continent.
“A critical testimony to our effective responses to issues was evidenced at the onset of COVID-19, when the FMITI set up an Emergency Operation Center (EOC) which guaranteed unhindered production of goods and services in the industrial sector.
“To complement and sustain these efforts, we are repositioning the ministry to establish a similar response mechanism in all our industrial activities as a buffer to cushion the effects of COVID- 19 Pandemic,” she said.
According to Katagum, it has become expedient for Africa to consistently promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation.
She said industrialisation would significantly raise the continent’s employment opportunities and contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in line with the vision of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA).
She said that with the ratification and signing of AfCFTA by the Federal Government, the ministry in collaboration with all stakeholders, would ensure seamless implementation of the agreement.
“It is obvious that the implementation of AfCFTA, with a robust focus and support for the manufacturing sector, will provide the platform for our quest for diversification to a prosperous non-oil dependent economy.
“Let me assure you that the Federal Government of Nigeria is geared up to meeting the demands of the enlarged continental market, which will be fostered by AfCFTA.
“This will attract more foreign direct investments into key industries and sectors of our economy, especially, where we possess comparative and competitive advantages.
“The benefits of AfCFTA are quite enormous, some of which include increased food security, through reduction of the rate of protection on trade in agricultural produce among African countries,” she said.
Mr Jean Bakole, UNIDO Representative and Regional Director said the choice of the theme for the celebration was timely as trading among countries under the AfCFTA began in January.
Bakole said that the COVID-19 pandemic had exposed the vulnerabilities of African health systems and economies, adding that “the agenda ahead is to transform these vulnerabilities to strength and resilience.
“While previous approaches for supporting industrialisation were done in silos, the AID has been instrumental in building up a noticeable shift toward collaborative and less of institutional-specific approaches.” he said.
NAN reports that industrialists, government functionaries and representatives of the organised labour were among participants at the event. (NAN)