Local oil and gas service companies and manufacturing outfits in the country have been listed among those to benefit from the recently signed Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) by President Muhammed Buhari.

According to the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Engr. Simbi Kesiye Wabote and President of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Mr. Mansur Ahmed, local oil and gas service companies and manufacturing outfits that have built their capacities and capabilities would benefit immensely from the trade agreement said to have the capacity to transform trade in Africa.

Wabote and Ahmed made the disclosure in Port Harcourt, Rivers State during the commissioning of Alcon’s ultra-modern factory for Electrical Power Distribution Panels and Switchgears, set up in partnership with ABB. 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.

In his remarks, the Executive Secretary commended Alcon, stating that investments like Alcon’s open the span of opportunities from national to continental levels. He said, ”establishment of such manufacturing outfits will enhance the delivery of the target benefits under the AfCFTA agreement.”

”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, Wabote said.”

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.

Also speaking, 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, bringing 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.“

Earlier in his speech, 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 a 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.

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. Adding 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.

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