In 2022, Nigeria spent at least N2.4 trillion on the importation of raw materials from foreign nations, according to statistics compiled by the National Bureau of Statistics’ Foreign Trade Statistics.
The report also revealed that Nigeria exported raw commodities worth N1 trillion, resulting in a N1.4 trillion imbalance over the time period under consideration. Investopdeia defines raw materials as substances or commodities utilized in the initial manufacture or production of goods.
Also, according to Statistica, the value of raw materials imported into Nigeria in 2021 was over N1.9 trillion, or almost $4.6 billion. Around N1.4 trillion, or $3.4 billion, worth of raw materials were imported the year before (2020). This was a continuation of the increasing trend seen since 2018.
The NBS records show that during this time, the main imports were cane sugar from Brazil, odoriferous materials from Ireland and Swaziland, as well as milk preparations from Malaysia and Ireland.
Mansur Ahmed, the immediately preceding MAN President, stated during the Annual General Meeting of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria’s Apapa chapter that an over reliance on imported raw materials had severely harmed Nigeria’s manufacturing industry.
He said, “Our manufacturing sector is weak because it is dependent on imported materials that we then process. We must therefore scale up or scale down. Our manufacturers have to go back and do the transformation. We in manufacturing need to focus on this issue. We need to build infrastructure. I was in a meeting where the Vice President inaugurated the national council on infrastructure.
“That is a very positive development. In our engagements and advocacy, we need to work with the government and indeed other stakeholders to ensure that the overall long-term transaction is for us to move our manufacturing sector from where we are today to where we should be, which is less dependence on imported materials, on foreign exchange issues, lack of dependence on machinery and spare parts. We have the capacity, we have the resources, we have the basic inputs we need. If we focus on this, the government will be a very willing partner.”
Speaking with The PUNCH, the Deputy-President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Gabriel Idahosa, cited the failure of Nigeria’s import substitution strategy as the reason for the country over-reliant on imported raw materials.
He added that importation of raw materials for production purposes would not be particularly injurious to the local economy if Nigeria was able to equally export raw materials to other countries to make up for the forex spent on our importation needs.
“A lot of the rest are just involved in importing their raw materials. In some areas we cannot do backward integrate because we do not have the raw materials or the technology to do it. If you are manufacturing a car in Nigeria, you cannot backward integrate to start building engines or even producing tires. You more or less still import most of the components and just put them together.”