Nigeria’s ailing ceramics industry has received a boost following the decision of Epina Technologies Limited to collaborate with stakeholders to resuscitate the industry. The firm is now set to bring all key players together – manufacturers and traders alike – on the first-ever international ceramics trade fair. The fair will be held at Sheraton Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos, on August 27 and 28 this year.
The trade fair is co-hosted by the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), while a number of private and public institutions are partners. Participants will be made up of local and notable foreign players, who will be in the country to share their experiences and products.
“Our interest is to revive the industry here and create opportunities for over 1.2 million unemployed Nigerians,’’ Patrick Eguakhide Oaikhinan, professor of ceramics engineering and CEO, Epina Technologies Limited, said in an interview with BusinessDay.
“When you talk of ceramics, people think of flower vases, plates and cups. But we intend to explain to Nigerians that without ceramics the automotive industry will not produce or assemble cars; the wristwatches cannot work; there will be no power transmission; the health sector will be dysfunctional. Do you know that people’s broken bones can be replaced with ceramics?,’’ he said.
The Epina CEO said the trade fair would help to educate local companies and prospective investors, which are struggling with processing their raw materials, on their chemical and mineralogical compositions, physical and mechanical properties.
Apart from the conventional ceramics plates and flower vases, ceramics also include bricks, pipes, floor and roof tiles; table wares, pottery products, sanitary wares, wall tiles and earthenware, among others. Experts have put the Nigerian ceramics market potential at $465.2 million. The ceramics business is thriving in many parts of the world, with its market projected to reach $408 billion by 2018, and China being the key player, according to Peter Onwualu, director- general, Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC). But it is still a captive industry as local demand is still being met by imports, given that the country ranks 13th among the world consumers of the products.