Data compiled from the National Bureau of Statistics’ Foreign Trade Statistics show that in 2022, Nigeria spent at least N2.4 trillion on the importation of raw materials from foreign nations.
The report also revealed that Nigeria exported raw materials 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.
In the preceding year (2020), around N1.4tn worth of raw materials (about $3.4bn) was imported. This followed the upward trend observed since 2018.
According to the NBS data, major imports during this period included cane sugar from Brazil, odiferous substances from Ireland and Swaziland, as well as milk preparations from Ireland and Malaysia. During the Annual General Meeting of the Apapa branch of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, the immediate past MAN President, Mansur Ahmed, said excessive reliance on imported raw materials had significantly weakened Nigeria’s manufacturing sector.
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.”
The failure of Nigeria’s import substitution plan, according to Gabriel Idahosa, Deputy-President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, is the cause of the nation’s excessive reliance on imported raw materials.
He continued by saying that if Nigeria was able to export raw materials to other nations to offset the foreign exchange spent on our importation needs, the importation of raw materials for production purposes would not be particularly harmful to the local economy.
“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.”