Nigeria spends about $4.5 billion (N887 billion) annually on importation of basic metals, made up of processed steel, aluminium products and associated derivatives consumed in the country, the Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Kayode Fayemi, has said.
Mr. Fayemi, said the import comes to about 25 million tonnes per annum.
Noting the strategic role of a viable steel sector in the developed countries of the world, Mr. Fayemi said the government was doing everything to turn on all the keys and push all the buttons to ensure that the steel sector was brought back to its rightful place in national development.
“Adequate incentives and encouragement have been extended to investors who have distinguished themselves in their various areas of businesses,” the Minister said.
The Minister was speaking at the foundation laying ceremony of the ultra-modern Steel Melt Shop in Ilorin, Kwara state.
He lauded the vision of the promoters of KAM Industries, regarded as the largest indigenous private sector investment in the steel sector in the country, saying such a landmark project became possible with government support and incentives to enhance productivity.
“KAM Industries has been a partner of the Ministry of Solid Minerals Development through its investments in both the upstream and the downstream sector of the Minerals industry.
“The enabling environment created by government is what has given spur and muscles to the private sector such as seen in the strides of KAM Industries,” he said.
The minister assured investors in the solid minerals sector of the federal government’s continued support in the form of incentives, to enable the sector contribute maximally to the economic diversification and development plans of the country.
He said the ministry of solid minerals development would also focus on capacity building in the steel sector to drive the country’s technological development aspirations.
A new mineral sector road map, he said, had been developed to realize set targets to boost the sector, adding that despite the country’s ranking in terms of iron ore reserves in the world, exploitation and steel production were still very low.
The local steel industry, the minister pointed out, was under-developed and currently being fed largely by steel scrap, in line with the ministry’s Road Map and Federal Government backward integration initiative.
“We can begin to build capacity in steel production from the primary raw materials rather than just importing semi-finished steel products for further processing to serve our markets, he said.
Reviewing the benefits of a strong steel sector, Mr. Fayemi said as the government continued to create a conducive atmosphere for investment, more industries would be established, while jobs would be created.
“The growth of the sector means wealth creation for the citizens, conservation of foreign exchange arising from the use of locally produced products as well as increased revenue generation for government, resulting in the diversification of our country’s revenue base.
“The investment climate has been purposely made attractive by government to achieve enhanced steel production in the country,” Mr. Fayemi explained.