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Nigeria’s steel importation bill may hit $15b annually, says Aganga

Nigeria might end up spending $15 billion every year to import steel from the current $3.3 billion despite  about two million metric tons of iron ore reserve in the country.

The country has the second largest iron ore deposit in Africa and 12th largest in the world.

Minister of Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga has  said at the weekend in Ilorin, the Kwara state capital, at the commissioning of the Cold Roll Mill Project of Kamwire Industries Limited that President Goodluck Jonathan “has already set up a committee about how we can make sure that our industries especially in the real sector have access to affordable finance and the Bank of Industry is going to play major role.

“We spend $3.3 billion every year importing those items. In the next decade because of the way we are growing that $3.3 billion will become $15 billion,” he said.

 “Today we have about minimum of $14bn committed to the petrochemical sector where its spread as I have just described to you; hopefully will be gained by 2017 or 2018, where we will be self sufficient and we would no longer need to import petroleum products in this country.

“Any country that relies entirely on exporting raw materials without having a strong industrial and related services sector will remain poor. We have made a mistake for nation for decades thinking we are a rich nation exporting crude oil, thinking we have money. But we do not have money. I happened to be your former finance minister, so I know. We may have that competitive advantage but what makes us different is what you do with that competitive advantage.

“We are working on infrastructure and power already, with a lot of commitments going into the power sector. We are working on it and we would get there. It takes three years or there about from where you start.”

The minister who hailed the owners of the Kamwire Industries Ltd said: “Anyone in the country who is creating thousands of jobs is hero. This company, Kamwire Industries Ltd today creates directly more than 3,000 jobs. If you go by industrial standard generally, it is one to three so if you multiply it 3, that is 9,000 no talking of the end users like housing industry etc.

“It is a sector that is the backbone of any economic or industrial development in any nation. So this sector is a big sector and we have our own Nigeria leading that sector, our job as a government is to make sure that it succeeds. We are to create enabling environment for the private sector to drive the economy. That is what we have done so far and which we need to do a little bit more. He has been a major supporter of industrial plan.

“The good thing about this Kamwire is that it is also connected to SMES and creating jobs for other people, making its products to become raw materials for other industries and also creating job in those industries.

“He was telling that he will supply raw materials to about 17 industries and more. That is what tells me why it is so important. By the time we get to that level that we are going, we will be saving about $15 billion per annum. I think your first phase, looking back is a project that will at least save us $4 billion in our foreign reserves annually. And then you look at what it will cost us in the next 10 years, it will be $15 billion. We will not be able to afford it as a nation and it will become a balance of payment deficit. That is why we came with the industrial revolution plan.”

Earlier, Deputy Managing Director of the company, Alhaja Mariam B. Yusuf listed insecurity, unstable foreign currency earnings due to monolithic economy, harsh political terrain, force majeure and national comparative disadvantages as some of the challenges militating against smooth industrial operations in the country.

Her words: “We on our part have been grappling with these challenges particularly those peculiar to industry, astronomical and injurious interest rate, dearth of technical skills, inadequate energy supply and inadequate transportation network etc.

“We are determined to take the risks and forcefully revolutionise industrialization in our country Nigeria.”

Source – WorldStage Newsonline

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