The Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, has called for increased private investment in the steel and solid minerals sector to shore up Nigeria’s manufacturing base and save the country $4.5 billion spent on steel importation annually.
Prof Osinbajo said 6.5 million metric tonnes production capacity per annum from 18 out of 30 existing steel rolling mills fall far short of the country’s requirements and is yet to meet global standards.
He said the Federal Government is working on the appropriate funding as well as provision of critical infrastructure and better business environment to encourage local and foreign investors.
Vice President Osinbajo said about 70 percent of Nigeria’s known iron ore deposits were yet to be proven to be viable and the government was considering options, which included working with private companies, “for certifying existing deposits”.
“We must be extremely ambitious in our industrialisation efforts,” Osinbajo said during a visit to a steel plant in Ilorin, Kwara State.
He added that Nigeria had about 2 billion metric tonnes of known iron ore reserves in total.
The Vice President also said steel played an important role in the government’s economic plan and that the administration wanted Nigeria to become “a net exporter of steel within the shortest possible time”.
Meanwhile, indigenous investors are asking for a minimum of 1 trillion naira intervention fund for steel development and solid minerals processing to empower local industries.
The government, led by President Muhammadu Buhari, has said it wants to diversify the economy by boosting agricultural, mineral and other non-energy sectors.