In this interview with THE COMMERCE AFRICA, the Director, Industrial Development Department in the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr Adewale Bakare speaks the mandate of the department and on some of the steps being taken by the government in promoting industrialization.
The IDD is structured to oversee industrial activities within the national economy and its mission is to ensure that the Nigerian industrial sector becomes the prime contributor to GDP, what are some of the initiatives being implemented by the Department to achieve this mandate?
Let me start by introducing myself. My name is Adewale Bakare, Director, Industrial Development Department of Federal Ministry of Industry Trade and Investment.
The Automotive Industry was identified as one of the key industrial sectors where we have the comparative and competitive advantage as a nation. It is under that concept that it was identified in the Nigerian Industrial Revolution
Plan which gave birth to the National Automotive Development plan which we are currently implementing.
The critical aspect of the department and the Ministry that we have done is to identify this particular critical industry as a key industrial sector as I said where we have comparative and competitive advantage. And in that regard, we developed this Automotive Development plan primarily as a roadmap towards the development of the Automotive Industry in the country.
The plan actually came into force in year 2014 and as the Commerce Africa Magazine has rightly identified, it is about time that we reviewed how far we have gone for us to be able to possibly learn from our mistakes and how to proactively accelerate the implementation of the plan.
It is about midway through the ten-year program, it was actually set for a ten-year program, of course to be reviewed periodically. This is about midterm into the implementation of the plan. So far, so good. I will say it has been up and down, the roadmap has been developed and to a large extent, it is being implemented.
So far, the major milestone that has been achieved is, over time, the Council, that is the Automotive Design and Development Council under the leadership of Engr. Jelani Aliyu, is closely working with the Ministry to engage with the Original Equipment Manufacturers who as we all know in this critical industry are the major drivers of the Automotive Industry.
To that extent, we have been able to ensure that most of them are being wooed to come and set up their plants in Nigeria and we have been able to achieve a milestone to the extent that many of them now have Assembly plants in Nigeria. So, so far, that is the much we have done in respect of the Automotive plan.
The IDD is a key partner of the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan project. To what extent has the NIRP assisted in job creation and poverty reduction for Nigeria?
The NIRP is the roadmap for industrialization and we all know the key intention of that plan is to generate employment. All the areas identified in the plan, there are four critical areas. The first one is the agro-allied Industrial Sector; solid mineral industrial sector; Oil and Gas industrial sector as well as large manufacturing under which the Automotive Industry falls.
We all know that these four critical areas are the major drivers for employment generation. If you look critically at the agro- allied industry, where we have piloted cotton and textile and garment industries, cement development, tomato industry, leather and leather products industry as well as the sugar master plan Industry. All these sub-sectors under agro-industrial sector have generated massive employment along the value chain from the farming of the core produce that are critical for this sub-sector like cotton which is being supported by the Central Bank of Nigeria like that of the sugar cane plantations that are now scattered in about five or six states of the federation and the sugar master plan which is currently being reviewed just like this Automotive Industry.
So, to a very large extent, the Nigerian Industrial Revolution Plan has contributed massively to employment generation for our teeming youths.
The Automotive Development Plan is one of the components of the NAIP. What is the level of support that the Ministry is giving to the NADDC as it implements the automotive plan?
I did indicate that the Council of NADDC is in close collaboration with the Ministry. The Ministry, primarily, designed and developed the Automotive plan. The Ministry, under the leadership of Hon. Minister Of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Richard Adeniyi Adebayo is providing the leadership towards the implementation of the Automotive plan.
The Ministry to that extent has provided that leadership in engaging the Original Equipment Manufacturers as I said earlier. It is the Hon. Minister that leads the cause in the engagement of the OEMs. The OEMs , as you are aware are those who manufacture the key components of any automotive vehicular movement.
So, in order for you to develop the automotive industry in any country, there is the need for you to seriously engage them and get their buy in. The Ministry provides leadership in ensuring that these OEMs have absolute confidence in the economy of Nigeria.
The Ministry also provides the enabling environment to ensure that these OEMs are able to operate seamlessly within the Nigerian economy. Those are the critical roles that the Ministry under the leadership of the Honorable Minister is providing in ensuring that the development of the Automotive Industry.
One critical aspect of the manufacturing sector is the automotive industry. How will you rate the implementation of the Nigerian Automotive Industry Development Plan under the leadership of the Director-General, Mr Jelani Aliyu ?
I will simply describe Engr Jelani Aliyu as a round peg in a round hole. All along, he has been known as a renowned Engineer in the Automotive Industry. He is a very notable automobile designer worldwide. He is known worldwide for that. To that extent, he has brought in some innovations into the implementation of the Automotive plan to the extent that he has even brought about the idea of electric motor initiative into the Nigerian economy.
I did state that this particular plan was designed in 2014. And in the Design Of the plan, the idea of electric vehicles was not a common feature. But, with the coming of Engr Jelani and his exposure to the international community in the Automotive Industry, he has fast tracked the idea of bringing the development of electric vehicles into this particular plan which is vigorously being pursued by the NADDC. Engr. Jelani impact too, has been felt in the area of capacity building among the young people in the Automotive Industry.
He has been a role model and has attracted a lot of young minds into this particular industry. I think he represents one of the key areas where government has identified a worthy son of this country to head a critical industry where he fits most.
The manufacturing sector holds the key to the growth of any economy. But in Nigeria, we are yet to get the maximum output for the sector. What are some of steps being taken by the ministry to tackle the challenges currently being faced by manufacturers in Nigeria?
As we all know, manufacturing is the key to ensuring the development of any known nation in the world and the challenges of manufacturing anywhere in the world are quite enormous. A critical one is for any government to provide the enabling environment. When we talk of enabling environment, there is a whole lot of factors and issues that we need to address from the basic infrastructure that these manufacturers will require for their production to the basic infrastructure that they will need to access the market to move their raw materials from one location to the other.
These are some of the areas that the government in the last four to five years have confronted massively in the area of rebuilding our infrastructure from rail to road, seaports as well as the airports. The challenges have been quite enormous for the manufacturers, but, they are
not insurmountable. With the government providing the right leadership in trying to surmount the challenges, the manufacturers, too, with their effective collaboration with government have really risen up to the challenge of ensuring that we as a country go on the path of Industrialization.
Let me emphasize that government in the last six to seven years or thereabouts, has taken the initiative to ensure that whatever policy that is developed in any particular industrial sector, is done in close conjunction with the critical stakeholders especially investors in that particular sector which are the manufacturers.
We will continue on that track as government and it is hoped that some of these challenges will become things of the past and we would have created a much more favorable environment for manufacturing activities to thrive in this country.
The Federal Government through the Automotive Development Plan is spearheading the local manufacturing of vehicles. Do we have enough capacity to be able to meet up with international standards?
As I did state, the Automotive Industry cannot be reinvented. It is a global business. The design of any automotive vehicle is well known within the international space. The area that we have competitive advantage has to do with the fact we have enough human capacity that has the requisite knowledge in this particular industry to develop. Complementary to that, we have the market to absorb large chunk of automobile vehicles .Like I pointed out to you earlier on that currently, we have a man at the helm of affairs of NADDC that is well known in this industry and he has taken it upon himself to impart his knowledge directly in some of our Federal institutions to ensure that we don’t just develop the capacity of the young ones in this industry, but to deepen the existing knowledge in this industry. Yes, I will affirm that we have the requisite knowledge and capacity to be able to compete effectively with the world in the development of the Automotive Industry.
Based on government’s official statistics, over $8bn is being spent annually to import between 350 and 400 cars into the country. What steps is the ministry taking to encourage demand for locally produced vehicles and conserve the huge foreign exchange spent on imported vehicles?
Thank you very much. That is one of the key areas that the plan is designed to address. That is empowerment of the citizenry to be able to procure not just Tokunbo vehicles but brand new ones. To that extent, the Ministry, working in close collaboration with the NADDC as well as some identified commercial banks, both locally and internationally, will soon come out with a robust credit plan that can be accessed by all customers of any locally assembled automobile in the country.
It is being designed that this credit that will be provided will be a single digit interest rate. To that extent, in the next year or thereabouts, we strongly believe that there will enough credit facilities for any citizen of this country that is willing to acquire a brand new vehicle from a local assembly plant in the country.
There seems to be a focus on gas lately with the implementation of the auto-gas conversion programme of the Federal Government. How is the manufacturing sector and the auto industry being positioned to take advantage of this new initiative of the Federal Government?
You are very much aware that Nigeria is a Gas nation, that we are well blessed, not just with crude oil, but, natural gas. On the basis of that, government, through the Ministry and the Council, have come up with a robust strategy towards ensuring that we develop gas powered vehicles in this country. And gladly too, the manufacturers have seriously embraced this initiative to the extent that about five to six months ago, the Hon. Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment formally launched Locally Assembled gas powered vehicles in the country and this initiative will be taken to all the six geopolitical political zones of the country.
It was actually launched in Abuja at the International Conference Centre. That initiative is intended to create an awareness among the citizenry that here we have gas powered vehicles being assembled in this country. It is environmentally friendly, efficient and we hope there will be mass production of the vehicle in the very near future. It has been embraced by manufacturers and are very happy about it. It is cost effective in the production of these gas-powered vehicles. Maybe much cheaper than electric vehicles that may be a sort of challenge for us in this country with the poor electricity generation. So, the issue of gas-powered vehicles is being seriously pursued and accepted by manufacturers in the country.
Going forward, what are some of the new initiatives that the department will be implementing to boost the level of industrialization in Nigeria?
Let me take this opportunity to inform the Commerce Africa Magazine that in this year, the Department under the leadership of the Hon. Minister, will be vigorously pursuing the midterm review of the Nigerian Industrial Revolution Plan . It is about midway in its implementation and to that extent, we have in this closing year engaged all the stakeholders to come up with the status of implementation of the NIRP viz-a-vis the new areas where we strongly believe we have that advantage and which should be pursued going forward. That means one of the key that we will be pursuing in the new plan has to do with information, communication technology which we know is like number one even in contribution to GDP aside from oil in this country. So, we will vigorously pursue that in the new NIRP.
I wish to formally invite The Commerce Africa Magazine to be our partner in all our programs towards the review of the plan. We intend to take it to all the six geopolitical zones of the country to garner ideas and more importantly review the impact of the plan in all the industrial activities
So, going forward we are enthusiastic and believe this is the time to take the NIRP to the next level.