Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah

The apex organisation for real sector operators in Nigeria, the Manufacturers’ Association of Nigeria MAN, has raised fresh concerns over the influx of fake, counterfeit and smuggled substandard products into the country, a development that has driven many operators out of business.

The group also laments that apart from the smuggling of substandard products, which prices are ridiculously low, the poor state of infrastructure in the country, especially public power supply has further helped to make locally produced goods uncompetitive with their peers from Europe and Asia, indicating that most manufacturers spend over 36 per cent of their overhead cost on generating power privately.

Director, Economics and Statistics of the association, Oluwasegun Osidipe, who spoke at a one-day stakeholders’ sensitisation programme on the ease of doing business organised by the Standards Organisation of Nigeria SON, said the incidence of smuggling of fake and substandard goods into the country, remains the greatest challenge faced by manufacturers in the country.

He however commended SON for its partnership with the manufacturers and relentless efforts at checkmating this menace, which he admitted are yielding good results.

According to him, smuggled fake and counterfeit products have displaced most of the local brands in domestic markets in the country, which has unpleasant consequences not only for the manufacturers, but also the government, consumers and even the national economy.

He said: “In fact, smuggled fake and counterfeit products have displaced the local brands in most domestic markets in Nigeria. The effect of this unwholesome practice for the Nigerian market include unhealthy competition for the locally manufactured products, promotion of employments in the exporting countries and exploitation of the retail consumers and exposure to health hazards as well as loss of revenue to the Nigerian Government.

“Others include low investment inflow into the country, undue pressure on the local currency, the naira since the foreign exchange used for these illicit imports is sourced outside the regulated financial market as well as erosion of value in Nigeria’s productive sector”.

It was also gathered that the seeming unbridled importation of fake and substandard products leads to a drastic reduction in installed capacity utilisation, a development that gives rise to idle facilities with the attendant loss of jobs for Nigerians.

In addition to deepening the unemployment market in the country and aggravating poverty among Nigerians, this rather ugly trend remains a dent on Nigeria’s image among comity of nations, thereby further destroying the national economy.

The MAN director noted that this development is even made worse by the harsh operating environment in the country, especially the total absence of public power supply, which makes manufacturers rely only on generators for the supply of electricity even in the presence of high cost of Automotive Gas Oil AGO, also called diesel, which sells for over N200 per litre.

“The incidence of smuggling of fake and counterfeit products remains the greatest challenge of the manufacturing sector in Nigeria because when you bring in a substandard product, they often come at very ridiculous prices and you begin to wonder. But we find ourselves in a situation where spend over 36 per cent of our overhead cost on generating power alone.

“When you factor this cost component into the pricing mechanism, you will see automatically that those fake and substandard goods will be more acceptable because of their low prices”, he further lamented.

While commending SON and other security agencies for their efforts at checkmating the influx of these products, he disclosed that the agencies have carried out market raids to fish out these fake and substandard good, destroyed many publicly and have prosecuted many suspects.

He therefore urged the Federal Government to give the necessary supports to the manufacturers to thrive as well as further equip and empower these security agencies in their zeal to rid the Nigerian market of fake and substandard products.

Recall that SON is currently wielding the big stick in checkmating the deliberate cloning of genuine Nigerian products by some fraudulent importers, especially electrical equipment.

In what appeared a new policy thrust, the organisation says that henceforth all imported electrical cables must undergo laboratory tests before they are cleared from the seaports across the country in order to curtail the cloning of local products.

Director of Enforcement and Monitoring, of the organisation, Engr. Bede Obayi, had while speaking at the stakeholders’ engagement, warned that importers caught cloning genuine products made in Nigeria would risk various jail terms.

It was gathered that what these fraudulent importers do is to import fake and substandard cables and clone them as Nigeria-made products, which have attained international acceptability and sell to unsuspecting users in Nigeria.