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The Federal Government has been urged to step up efforts in the fight against fake and counterfeit products so as to protect local manufacturers against unfair competition in the market.

The Deputy Managing Director, Dangote Flour Mills Plc, Alhaji Shuaibu Idris, said this in an interview with our correspondent on Wednesday in Lagos.

He said, 'Unless we do massive advertisements, we may not be able to fight product counterfeiting. Sometimes, the counterfeits are coming across the border, so massive policing of the borders could reduce the inflow of fake and substandard products. Locally, there are some Nigerians who also engage in such malpractices and the efforts of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control will help in stopping such malpractices against the manufacturers.

'Once a customer buys a product and the product happens to be sub-standard and your label is on it, and this label is not originally from you, one thing is that someone may not know that he or she has bought a sub-standard product; this affects your brand and your market share, as a lot of companies have closed because of this illegal operation.'

According to him, some people are trying to promote a website, which will allow the buyers of any product to have information on the name and addresses of dealers of original products, adding that when the website eventually became operational, buyers would have ready-made information as to where original products could be bought.

He urged the country to learn from the development of India and China's manufacturing industries, which had put in place policies, systems, programmes and schemes that helped to nurture the industries and gave them some level of development and ability to compete with other manufacturing industries from the United States and Europe.

Idris said, 'The same thing applies to Japan, especially in the area of automobile, in which the likes of Toyota, Honda and Mazda have dominated the industry due to the system and mechanisms put in place by the country. Nigeria can borrow from the Asian Tigers and also Britain on how they developed their small and medium scale enterprises.

'We should also look at the role of India in outsourcing. A lot of American companies are having their call centres, Information and Communication Technology centres, accounting and taxation being handled in India. Why can't Nigeria begin to provide conducive atmosphere so that such outsourced functions can be handled by Nigerians in Nigeria just as India is doing to the USA?'

According to him, there is enormous market potential in Nigeria, being a dominant member of the Economic Community of West African States with a population of about 150 million, which serves as an advantage to the economy of the country.

He said that Nigeria should explore the opportunities in other ECOWAS countries, as most of the Francophone countries currently imported their products from France, adding that an investor who had invested in Nigeria to produce goods and services that could be exported into the neighbouring countries would be making a right investment decision.

He said that Nigerians were gradually becoming more economically empowered with high disposable income, adding that manufacturing companies were in a privileged position to continue to expand their market share, noting that there was still a lot of market potential for those who wanted to join the manufacturing sector.