The Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Abubakar Bawa Bwari said only the rapid development of the Steel and Aluminum Sector can accelerate the industrial development of Nigeria.
The Minister said this will not only raise the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and earn Nigeria huge foreign exchange, it will also encourage the expansion of downstream activities, create jobs and ensure speedy realisation of the goals and objectives of the administration’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (GRP).
“For too long Nigeria depended on oil as the mainstay of its economy while neglecting the solid mineral sector despite its overwhelming capacity to reduce poverty and increase our GDP substantially,” he added.
Bwari made this statement,while declaring open, the on-going two-day 2018 National Steel Summit with the theme; “Diversification of the Nigerian economy – the indispensable role of the Steel Industry” holding at the Ikeja Airport Hotel.
He listed the main objectives of the Summit to include; providing a forum for stakeholders to interact and devise strategies for the sustainable development of the metals sector; creating a platform for dialogue between Government and Metals Industry Stakeholders as well as evolving acceptable time-bound Strategies towards fulfilling the goals of developing the Metals sector in Nigeria.
“Although the private sector has so far demonstrated a strong capacity to drive the Steel Sector in Nigeria, government is determined to reform the thriving steel scrap recycling industry by encouraging crude steel production using our local raw materials,” he assured participants.
He stated that one of the key objectives of the privatisation policy of the Federal Government was to encourage the private sector to own and operate enterprises while the Government remains the regulator.
He said extensive reforms were carried out in the last three years, to reposition the Mining Sector to respond to government aspiration of leveraging on the vast mineral potentials available in Nigeria to support the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).
This, he said has been achieved through the concerted efforts of this administration to improve support for the minerals and metals sector in order to address the various challenges impeding growth.
As regards the country’s legacy assets, the Minister said, “we have made great progress in resolving the legal issues surrounding the Ajaokuta Steel Complex, similarly, ALSCON, we have made significant progress in our effort to bring the company back to life with the approval of the National Council on Privatisation that Messrs UC Rusal be restated as core investor”.
He said that all the efforts at addressing the ease of doing business in Nigeria has led to improved ranking in sector specific assessment of the mining jurisdiction. He however stated the need for the government efforts to be consolidated by the private sector which should develop Mineral Value-Chain activities on the mined mineral resources and leverage on the successes recorded in the sector.
“Considering the fact that the consumption rate of steel and other metal products is regarded as a major index of industrialisation, it is obvious that Nigeria is seriously lagging behind, even by the standard of developing nations”, he further explained.
With an estimated population of 190 million people, he believed that Nigeria has a domestic market that can support rapid growth in the metals and related product sector. “Indeed, considering the versatility of steel as an industrial material, Nigeria could easily join the comity of steel producing nations if our abundant iron ore resources are effectively harnessed to produce crude steel” he assured participants.
Earlier in his opening remarks, the Permanent Secretary, Abdulkadri Mu’azu said the Summit is one of several initiatives that specifically targets the tie-in of the economic diversification drive of the government to the reinvigoration of the steel industry as no nation can become industrialized without an active steel sector.
He called on participants at the summit to be open and sincere in their contributions to enable the government chart the way forward in improving the critical role of the steel sector in the diversification of the nation’s economy.
One of the resource persons and Director General, National Steel Raw Materials Exploration Agency (NSRMEA), Kaduna, Umar Hassan said Nigeria is blessed with enough mineral raw materials and human resource capable of developing her Iron and Steel industry for economic diversification. He thereafter advocated for the local exploration of steel raw materials to ensure sustainable local production of steel in the country.
HARRISON EDEH, ABUJA