C ontrary to expectations of exhibitors at the 30th edition of the ongoing Lagos International Trade Fair to make profits from the annual event, The Point’s investigations have revealed that over 60 per cent of the exhibitors, who spent about N1 million each on space and exhibition stands, are presently regretting their decisions.
Some manufacturers who also took their wares to the Fair, which ends on Sunday, November 13, told The Pointthat the low patronage witnessed had created holes in their pockets, a development they said would affect their operations in the next one year.
Though, the low patronage was attributed to the current economic recession, they, however, insisted that the organisers of the event, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, should have created a soft landing for exhibitors, considering the harsh business environment.
The Regional Sales Manager, Eleganza Limited, Mr. Akanni Oladimeji, stated that human traffic at the fair had been discouraging, compared to the 2015 edition, which was more rewarding.
According to him, the scarcity of foreign exchange has made the cost of imported raw materials needed for the production of their plastic and rubber products to rise, a development he claimed also affected the cost of putting up a stand at the fair.
“I must say it has not been good so far, everything is not just adding up, not so many people have cash to patronise us, but we are still hopeful things will turn around before the end of the fair,” he told The Point.
Similarly, the lull in the level of patronage was also felt by some blue chip companies as many of their staff were seen sitting idle and persuading passersby to come and patronise them.
The Promotion Manager, NASCO Foods Limited, Mr. Tiwalade Fatugase, bemoaned the low patronage at the trade fair, which he described as the worst his company had participated in in the last few years. “We did not get value for the money we have spent at the fair.
Despite paying over N1 million to secure the stand, the value of business transactions we have made is not close to that. Business has been dull for almost all exhibitors since the beginning of the fair. It shows how the current economic recession is biting hard on both producers and consumers of goods and services,” he lamented.
Also, some exhibitors frowned at the influx of foreign and imported products to the fair, with experts saying that such development could affect the Nigerian economy negatively.
The experts explained that the dominance of foreign brands over their local counterparts was not in the interest of the Nigerian manufacturing sector.
An industrialist, Mrs. Ayobami Adeboye, noted that foreign products could crowd local manufacturers of similar products out of the market, adding that this could also scare local investors from the affected sectors.
“The influx of such products is bad for the Nigerian economy, because they will end up competing with the local manufacturers and at this level of our development, we need to allow local producers stabilise before opening our gates to foreign and cheaper counterparts, if not, they will be competing in an unfair business environment,” she explained.
However, a former Director-General, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Mr. Rasheed Adegbenro, insisted that such a development could be good for the economy if the foreign products were just machinery and equipment.
He said no nation could claim to be a fountain of knowledge, but opined that “in a situation where Nigeria imports goods and service with machinery, it is killing the economy.”
“If it is only machinery, such machines will be used by manufacturers to produce their goods,” he noted.
Fix impediments for economic resurgence, experts tell fg
Meanwhile, experts in the manufacturing sector have urged the Federal Government to tackle hurdles of production, like irregular power supply and poor road network, if it is determined to diversify the economy.
President, LCCI, Dr. Nike Akande, said the major obstacles to the diversification of the Nigerian economy were the challenges being faced by industries and the productive sectors of the economy.
She said, “The pressing and overriding challenge in our quest for economic diversification is to fix the impediments to productivity and competitiveness in the economy. If we tackle these constraints, we will encourage domestic investment, attract foreign capital and facilitate the realisation of the enormous potential in the Nigerian economy.
“It is also to underline the imperative of building an economy that is sustainable. There is perhaps no better time to do this than now. This year, oil price got to its lowest in two decades. Needless to say, it is imperative at this time to focus on the non-oil sector for diversification. The non-oil economy is generally more inclusive and integrated. It is also more growthoriented, and characterised by high economic linkages; it is more stable and above all, more sustainable. It is important for us to appreciate these fundamental dynamics of the Nigerian economy in order to be able to put in place policies that will ensure sustainable economic development.”
Similarly, the National President, Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, Chief Bassey Edem, tasked the Federal Government on eliminating poor infrastructure, unstable fiscal and monetary policies, and multiplicity of taxes to make production easier for manufacturers.
He said, “As we may be aware, economic diversification is the process of expanding the range of activities both in the production and distribution of goods and services. It is the widening of the economic activities to create a broad-based economy.
“In achieving this expansion, the challenges that make industrial investment in the country very expensive and unattractive have to be eliminated. These challenges include poor infrastructure, unstable fiscal and monetary policies and taxation multiplicity, among others.”