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Nigeria launches campaign promoting homemade goods

Oct 13, 2009

By Felix Onuah

ABUJA, Oct 13 (Reuters) - Nigeria on Tuesday 13 October launched a nationwide campaign to promote food, shoes, furniture and other products made in Africa's most populous country, the latest government effort to overturn its battered reputation.

Vice President Goodluck Jonathan urged Nigerians to favour homemade products over foreign imports to help develop the manufacturing and agricultural sectors in sub-Saharan Africa's second biggest economy.

But critics say the real problem is not the lack of consumer demand, but the country's poor electricity supplies and transportation system that keep costs high for local businesses.

"Unfortunately, many industries have closed shop due to a lack of patronage of their products by Nigerians," Jonathan said at a public ceremony in the nation's capital Abuja.

"Let us rededicate ourselves to ensure that Nigerians take pride in everything Nigerian and make 'Made In Nigeria' products their first choice at all times," he added.

The government is battling to restore self-confidence in the West African country, and launched a rebranding campaign in March with the slogan: "Nigeria: Good People, Great Nation".

It has also taken action to shrug off its image as an epicentre of corruption and crime.

The government last month banned the showing of blockbuster sci-fi movie "District 9," which caricatures Nigerians as gangsters and cannibals, and demanded an apology from Sony after a Playstation advert implied they are fraudsters.

But Nigerians, most of whom live on less than $2 a day, say the government needs to do more to address the everyday problems of the oil-rich, but impoverished country.

"This patronage campaign will be a waste of time and money if the government does not follow it with deliberate policies that will create an atmosphere conducive for industries to strive. A verbal campaign is not enough," said David Toudor, a sociology lecturer at Tuesday (13 October)'s ceremony. (Writing by Randy Fabi; Editing Jon Hemming) (For more Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit: af.reuters.com/ )

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