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Nigerian unions challenge obstacles to industrialization

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28 November, 2014IndustriALL affiliates in Nigeria organized a tripartite roundtable to consider ways to improve industrialization in the country, followed by a rally to commemorate Africa Industrialization Day.

Over 70 participants from trade unions, industry and government came together on 19 November 2014 to discuss the national industrial plan recently launched by the Nigerian government. Discussions highlighted the progress that has been made through policies in some sectors such as automotive. However, manufacturing sectors in Nigeria face multiple challenges posed by inadequate infrastructure as well as unfavourable taxation and other hindrances to investment.

A reliable electricity supply is critical for industrialization and participants agreed that privatization had resulted in price increases with no improvement in supply. Capacity has stagnated at around 4000 megawatts after two years of privatization. The roundtable called for more strategic public investment in electricity generation.

Addressing participants, General Secretary of the National Union Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGTWN) and IndustriALL executive committee member, Issa Aremu, said:

“Sustainable industrial development is one of the primary focuses of IndustriALL Global Union. Africa is endowed with raw materials but not adding value to them. Africa should stop being an exporter of raw materials and jobs, but a producer of manufacturing goods and a retainer of jobs.”

The roundtable was followed by a rally, with support from IndustriALL Global Union Africa Region, to mark African Industrialization Day on 20 November. Over 400 workers used the occasion of to raise issues hampering development of industrial sectors, including inadequate customs controls, insufficient state investment in refineries and electricity provision, and the need to revive manufacturing in the country.

In addition to NUTGTWN, affiliates that took part in the rally were the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas, National Union of Footwear, Rubber, Leather and Non Metallic Employees, Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria and Chemical and Non Metallic Product Senior Staff Association. They were joined by prospective affiliates Steel and Engineering Workers Union of Nigeria and National Union of Electricity Employees as well as other agricultural and industrial unions.