News / Africa

    Nigeria Debates Push for Locally-Made Goods

    Local and imported rice is sold from bowls in front of a shop in Obalende market in Lagos, Nigeria, March 3, 2016. (C. Stein/VOA)
    Local and imported rice is sold from bowls in front of a shop in Obalende market in Lagos, Nigeria, March 3, 2016. (C. Stein/VOA)

    As Nigeria struggles with the price of imported goods and slow economic growth, a social media campaign is encouraging Nigerians to buy local.

    Championed by an outspoken senator and spread across social media, #BuyNaijaToGrowTheNaira advocates are choosing locally made products over imports as the global drop in the price of petroleum takes its toll on oil-dependent Nigeria.

    “I say the only way to solve our economic problem is to support made-in-Nigeria goods and services, because if we did that, some of the money stays here. We could support our people here,” said the senator, Ben Murray-Bruce. “We have great entrepreneurs in this country.”

    Sales of crude oil bring in most of Nigeria’s government revenues and account for much of the exports of Africa’s largest economy.

    The price of petroleum has slid to around $35 per barrel from about $100 two years ago. The ensuing drop in oil revenue has hurt the naira currency.  It has lost about 50 percent of its value on the black market, even though the government has managed to keep its official rate stable by spending foreign reserves and imposing capital controls.

    Nigeria has spent decades developing its oil sector at the expense of other industries. As a result, it imports much of its household goods and electronics.

    Bills for importers have to be settled in foreign currencies, and with a weak naira, that’s affecting prices at marketplaces across the country.

    Provisions are displayed at a store in Obalende market in Lagos, Nigeria, March 3, 2016. (C. Stein/VOA)
    Provisions are displayed at a store in Obalende market in Lagos, Nigeria, March 3, 2016. (C. Stein/VOA)

    Sitting in his shop at Lagos’ Obalende Market, Sunday Emeka said he has to charge more for foreign goods like diapers.

    “The importing of the goods makes the dollar rise up,” he said. “People are just complaining.”

    Some Nigerian entrepreneurs have praised Murray-Bruce’s campaign.

    “It’s something we should all join,” said Ani Bassey-Eyo, who runs a food company that sells honey. “There’s no reason why we should import certain things like toothpicks, or certain things we can make back home.”

    Others see it as shortsighted.

    “He’s not really looking at the real structural issue that’s at hand,” said Chuba Ezekwesili, a research analyst at the Nigerian Economic Summit Group.

    Nigeria ranks dismally in the World Bank’s business climate rankings, scoring 169th out of 189 countries surveyed. The bank cites the unreliability of electricity and slow pace of bureaucracies for the low score.

    It would be best to tackle problems like these that drive up the cost of doing business in the country, Ezekwesili said. That would allow Nigeria to export more than just petroleum, cushioning the economy when prices fall.

    “Institutional and infrastructural fixes need to be done,” Ezekwesili said. “[Murray-Bruce] is not looking at that.”

    A provisions store in Obalende market in Lagos, Nigeria, March 3, 2016. (C. Stein/VOA)
    A provisions store in Obalende market in Lagos, Nigeria, March 3, 2016. (C. Stein/VOA)

    There are signs that Nigerians have, over the years, grown fonder of local industries. When Bassey-Eyo was growing up, he said, few people wanted to listen to Nigerian artists or wear local clothing. But now, Nigerian artists are popular across West Africa, and the country’s Nollywood film industry ranks among the world’s largest.

    “We have evolved, particularly with Nollywood and the entertaining industry setting the trend,” Bassey-Eyo said. “I think it’s now time ... for goods to transcend that sort of perception line.”

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    Comments
         
    by: paddy from: Nigeria
    March 04, 2016 11:34 AM
    NAFDAC AND CONSUMER PROTECTION AGENCY are obstacles to locally made goods and jobs creation in Nigeria. requiring a potential manufacturer to invest in land and a bungalow( a price tag of N10 minimum) is not a way to encourage manufacturing in SMEs. goods coming into Nigeria from outside are often produced in sweat shops and prison labor camps, they still get NAFDAC numbers where Nigerian made goods are effectively shot out for building plant requirement, not even sanitation. they are killing our potential goods and jobs. The production plant requirement should urgently be revisited.

    by: Kut from: Naija
    March 04, 2016 6:21 AM
    Personally I view this campaign with a pinch of salt but it seems to be gathering storm, slowly but surely. I hear they have just launched an online database for Nigerian products at buynaija.ng They seem to be serious but only time will tell if it succeeds or not

    by: Gideon Jackson from: Columbus OH
    March 04, 2016 4:01 AM
    I sure hope they will tell the Nigerian politicians who all of them spends billons of foreign currency buying goods from abroad and secondly, who spends billions running to overseas when they have malaria. Its not the common man, that started it. They the politician who to me are polithiefcian made that country what it is today. They should clean the mess.
    In Response

    by: Uchennegbunem from: Enugu
    March 04, 2016 8:05 AM
    Asking that the politician clean up the mess is right. Agreed totally. But wait, what if they do not clean up, who suffers more? You and I. So while we are stridently asking them to clean up, please let us do the best we can where we are, however salutary the results are.

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