(NAN) The Electricity Meter Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (EMMAN) on Wednesday expressed worries over spontaneous increase and lack of accessibility to foreign exchange for importation of vital manufacturing components.
Its Executive Secretary, Mr Muyideen Ibrahim, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that most manufacturers could not produce due to hike in forex.
Ibrahim said that some members, who relied on importation for some of the components required for the production of meters, complained that it had become very difficult to access forex to order for those inputs.
He decried the recent benchmark interest rate hike by the Monetary Policy Committee of the Central Bank of Nigeria from 12 per cent to 14 per cent, saying it would further increase the rate at which commercial banks lend to them.
According to him, the challenges of accessing forex are really biting harder on local manufacturers. We cannot produce as and when due.
“Forex is not readily available because manufacturers cannot be going to the black market to buy at almost N400 and above to a dollar.
“As we speak, over N50 billion worth of investment from all of the manufacturers is just wasting away, as it were,’’ he said.
The EMMAN scribe said that aside from forex, poor power supply had been a major problem facing the manufacturers, adding most members rely almost completely on generators.
“You can imagine the impact of all these challenges on the manufacturers’ cost of production. This is making local meter manufacturers unable to compete favourably with their foreign counterparts, especially those from China.
“The difference between China and Nigeria is that the Chinese government supports its manufacturers, because they have a good policy framework that is actually working.
“That is why some of the Chinese companies are saying, ‘We will give some of the Discos meters with one year moratorium before we start collecting money.
“ No Nigerian meter manufacturer can do that,’’ he said.
Ibrahim said that about five members produced at least 5,000 meters monthly; adding that lack of patronage from distribution companies has affected their production.
He said that low patronage from Discos has forced many local meter manufacturers to cut down workers drastically, adding that their ability to service their loans is being threatened.
Ibrahim said the government should give the manufacturers concession with respect to forex and a special intervention fund at a single digit interest rate to enable them to compete with their foreign counterparts.
This, according to Ibrahim, will bring about massive job creation, transfer of technology and contribution to the Gross Domestic Product.
“Government should urgently find way to liberalise the metering arm of the power sector, because there is no enabling law that says it is only the Discos that have the right to buy meters.
“Individuals should be able to buy their meters themselves and take them to the Discos for them to be keyed into the systems before installing them, Ibrahim explained.
Similarly, Mr Kola Balogun, Chairman, Momas Electricity Meters Manufacturing Limited (MEMMCOL), has urged the Federal Government to support more indigenous meter manufacturing companies in the country.
Balogun said that indigenous companies had more to offer the nation than their foreign counterparts.
He said that he was inspired by the need to make Nigeria a country that is technologically advanced to meet its own technological needs that was why he set up the meter manufacturing company.
The MEMMCOL boss said that Nigeria can no longer be dependent on other countries for our technological requirements.
He said that through a systematic approach and strong belief in the ability of Nigerians to develop and create value.
Balogun said that MEMMCOL as a company has developed a world class standard range of products working together to provide electricity metering solutions using the latest technologies in design and production. (NAN)