There is increasing awareness on the need for cooperation, collaboration, synergy, joint and mutual support among industries, government and academia. This can be facilitated by practical and effective cluster initiatives.
The cluster concept emphasises shared industrial facilities as it encourages value chain operators to manage limited resources, share expertise as well as operate and address common challenges (market, innovations, product improvement, etc) at minimal cost.
The raw materials-based cluster is based on a common vision and strategy intended to foster the development of value-added products from the abundant local resources, as well as encourage the establishment of viable SMEs that are adaptable to local contents’ development in Nigeria.
The Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) said its Ward Based Cluster Programme (WBCP) initiative remained a very good alternative strategy in the industrialization and diversification of nation’s economy to non-oil.
Reeling out some of its achievements in office of Dr Hussaini Ibrahim as the chief executive officer, the agency said it had entered into strategic partnerships with other key stakeholders to promote the initiative, adding it had equally come up with a number of cluster projects, some of which were already in operation.
“In view of the fact that the council cannot implement this programme alone due to the enormous funds required, the council early this year organized an extensive cluster summit, which involved all the critical stakeholders in Abuja. The essence of the summit was to galvanize funds for the implementation of the cluster programme and to also solicit for commitment and cooperation of the stakeholders such as the CBN, Federal Ministry of Finance, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment (FMITI), Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (SMEDAN) and all the relevant paratatals in the Ministry of Science and Technology.
“The target audience for the summit included the state ministries of agriculture, commerce and industry, women groups and offices of the wives of the state governors among others. Follow-up strategies have been employed to make sure that the recommendations of the summit are achieved within the shortest time frame,” it pointed out in a statement.
The agency also said under the current administration headed by Ibrahim, it had started the implementation of a two-phased strategic plan initiated on the advice of the former chief economic adviser to President Olusegun Obasanjo, Dr Osita Ogbu.
In executing the first strategic plan, RMRDC had already achieved about 60 per cent of the office extension project to provide enough office space for the staff in order to promote productivity and conducive environment for work, it said.
It has also, according to the statement, embarked on extensive human capacity development of the RMRDC workforce by organising retreats for the top, middle and lower cadres of staff to get them acquainted with the provisions of the plan to make its implementations easier, as well as large-scale massive promotion of staff that had been stagnated for over 10 years with over 200 staff promoted to achieve increased and sustainable productivity.
“In accordance with the second strategic plan, new divisions and departments were created to close up the gaps created in the new council’s organogram and to also facilitate staff career progression for better service delivery. The established positions in the newly created departments and divisions have been fully filled up. Training and retraining for staff have been undertaken by the management on a large scale,” the statement pointed out.
It further said under the headship of Ibrahim, RMRDC, in a bid to further align with the federal government’s policy of diversification of the economy from crude oil to non-oil resources, had through its policy analysis and development division (PADD), produced 25 policy briefs on strategic raw materials out of 64 recommended by the current strategic plan.
“The policy briefs are summary of status of raw materials with regard to their availability, local and global production including import and export as they affect Nigeria. It also gives policy recommendations on how local contents of such raw materials can be achieved in order to facilitate their deletion/substitution from the import list in order to save the country huge foreign exchange and to create jobs for the teeming populace, thereby contributing immensely to the economic growth of the nation.
”In line with this, the council has also reviewed the draft of the Raw Materials Policy for Nigeria, which was first produced in 2009. The Raw Materials Policy is based on 10 sectors of Manufacturing Association of Nigeria (MAN) and aimed at providing strategies for the promotion, production, utilization and development of raw material resources in all the productive sectors of MAN. In order to make the policy implementable, the DG solicited the cooperation of the major stakeholder, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) to vet the document, after which their recommendations were captured in the reviewed edition,” it stated.
The statement also said a committee was set up to collate and upload all the publications on the council’s websites for ease of reference of industrialists, investors, students, academia and other interested users in view of the concern of the director-general on accessibility and visibility of the council’s publications by our numerous stakeholders.
The RMRDC helmsman, it added, met some 85 projects on strategic raw materials that were being implemented by various departments, pointing out that the projects were reviewed based on viability, result orientation and strategic goals with only about 16 of the strategic projects streamlined with specific targets and goal.
“It is also noteworthy, that some projects that were hitherto terminated before he came on board were further reviewed and brought to conclusion,” it further stated.