The Minister of Mines and Steel, Mohammed Musa Sada after a visit to some private owned factories has said local investors should be given as much recognition as the foreign ones. Ruth Tene looks at the capacity and advantages of these local investors.
In recent times the need to attract foreign investors and investments to Nigeria have been topmost on the federal government's agenda. This has been buttressed by its constant visits to foreign companies, nations and international corporations to lure them to the Nigerian economic sector.
To this effect the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mohammed Musa Sada made it a duty to visit many countries and attend international conferences and forums, all in the bid to attract these investment but to no avail.
His efforts have seemingly yielded no results, or the results are slow in coming and sometimes frustrating because many investors are turned away by the level of insecurity in the country and the fear of being caught in the middle of the security challenges bedevilling the nation at present.
This point of view was demonstrated recently when a Canadian and an English investor came into the country following a recent conference in South Africa and Canada respectively attended by the minister to woo investors.
A source who pleaded anonymity said, “The investors who were to visit Sokoto State to see existing opportunities for themselves turned back on reaching Kaduna due to the March 4 bombing of a church in Jos, Plateau State."
This among others can be said to be the reasons that made Sada to look at other existing opportunities rather than keep praying and waiting for the day of the foreign investors.
His first visit took him to Ogun State where he visited four plants and in the process commissioned the African Foundries Limited, which was said to have an investment of N15 billion in its first phase to achieve a production of 500,000 metric tons of steel billets per annum.
The Group Chairman of the company, Praduman Gupta, said the company was born at the invitation of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who called on some financially buoyant medium scale investors to establish a mini steel project following the failure of the Ajaokuta Steel Complex.
Gupta said that today, as a result of that invitation, Nigeria is the only country in the West Africa sub-region that has become self sufficient, not only in recycling locally available steel (crap) for the production of steel rods and bars but also in exporting.
The minister's visit further took him to the Dangote cement factory where the new plant was said to be already producing 6,000 metric tonnes of cement per annum and which had a human capacity of over 700 employed workers, majority of whom are Nigerians.
The Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of the Dangote Cement Ibese plant, Siharan Kumar, speaking to journalists, gave the assurance that the price of cement would come down when the company reaches full production capacity.
Furthermore, Sada visited LAFARGE, a cement and biomax factory which encouraged the use of waste materials as a source and supplement to energy and gas.
Managing Director of the Plant, Joseph Hudson, hinted that the plant already had a production capacity of over 4.5 million tonnes per annum, was generating more energy than it could use, and consequently supplying the excess to nearby communities.
Hudson said part of their programs included the biomax project which involved the use of waste products for fuel rather than the use of gas and other fuels, while the company focussed on youth development shelter and health as well as welfare for the development of the immediate community as part of their community development initiative.