Local oil and gas service companies and manufacturing outfits that have built their capacities and capabilities will benefit immensely from Nigeria’s recent signing of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Engr. Simbi Kesiye Wabote and President of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Mr. Mansur Ahmed have said.
They spoke on Wednesday in Port Harcourt, Rivers State at the commissioning of Alcon’s ultra-modern factory for Electrical Power Distribution Panels and Switchgears, set up in partnership with ABB, a world leading electrical and power original equipment manufacturer (OEM).
The facility has an annual capacity of 750 main distribution panels,1,200 sub main DBs to over 5000 consumer units and can engage 150 personnel.
Delivering the keynote address at the event, the Executive Secretary stated that investments like Alcon’s opens the span of opportunities from the national to continental levels. According to him the ”establishment of such manufacturing outfits will enhance the delivery of the target benefits under the AfCFTA agreement.”
He said ”if you take the population of Africa and the potential market and given the general level of development of countries, the sky is the limit for any manufacturer that makes the right investment, has the right quality and partnerships.”
He commended Alcon for being the first company to obtain NCDMB’s ‘Nigerian Content Equipment Certificate (NCEC) Category A’ for Electrical Switchgear and Panel Building and announced that the Board would no longer grant approvals for operators in the oil and gas industry to import the products manufactured by Alcon.
He further charged the company to continue to deliver top-notch Low Voltage panels as well as introduce new products with the quality than can match those that are manufactured in any part of the world and promised that NCDMB would continue to educate industry stakeholders about the company’s capabilities through the NOGIC JQS platform.
Wabote also commended ALCON for its ability to nurture a formidable partnership with ABB, stating that it ”attests to the fact that if local companies have the right processes and procedures in place, international OEMs will be willing to form alliances and partnerships that endure.
In his remarks, President of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Mansur Ahmed charged Alcon and other manufacturers to take advantage of the opportunities presented by President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent signing of the continental free trade agreement, which will bring the 55 African countries into one common market. He explained that AfCFTA will generate a market of 1.2 billion people and an active economy of trillions. He added that, ”every manufacturer or investor should look at that and begin to thrive. I am glad that Alcon is seeing this vision and there is plan for expansion. As we go into the AfCTA, we are going to create a bigger market, four to five times bigger than what exists presently.“
In his address, the Managing Director of Alcon, Mr. Gerardo Della Santa stated that the factory was the largest of its kind in Nigeria and had trained its personnel locally as well as in Egypt and Italy to keep pace with new technologies and new products. He described the facility as landmark because it will transfer technology in a highly specialized sector, create new jobs and expertise. ”We perform the full cycle of the panel production, design, customization, assembly, testing, packaging and delivery,” he said. Santa confirmed that the company had received all required certifications from ABB and Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON) to operate as a panel builder. He thanked NCDMB for believing in the company’s vision and the Bank of Industry for providing the financial support for the investment.
The Country Managing Director, Nigeria, ABB, Mr. Hany Abd-Elazim underscored the company’s long partnership with Alcon and its support for the new production facility, noting that it had huge value addition in line with the Local Content initiative. He expressed delight that the new facility will create job opportunities and improve productivity in Nigeria. He added that the factory provided an opportunity to export products within the ECOWAS region and expand to the continent when the African Free Trade Area takes effect from mid 2020. “This will support the cooperation to have local value added products from Nigeria to be exported,” Abd-Elazim said.