The development of Nigeria’s steel sector will help speed up the country’s industrialization process, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said.
Prof. Osinbajo was speaking at the foundation laying ceremony of Kam Steel Integrated Complex at Jimba Oja, in Illorin Kwara State. He said steel plays an important role in the present administration’s economic agenda.
The vice president said despite having the 12th largest iron ore deposit in the world and the second largest in Africa, about 70 per cent of Nigeria’s deposits were yet to be proven.
He said in Ilorin, Kwara State, on Tuesday that the federal government was looking at options to solve the challenge of developing the sector, including mobilizing government capacity and private sector competencies to certify existing deposits.
“Because steel is the world most important engineering material, Buhari’s presidency is determined to bring about a faster industrialization process in the country through the active development of the steel sector,” he said.
With about 2 billion metric tonnes of iron ore reserves, he said Nigeria must be extremely ambitious in her industrialization efforts, adding that never has the need to increase investment in Nigeria been more crucial than time.
To demonstrate the administration’s commitment to make the country a net exporter of steel, he said President Muhammadu Buhari had directed that everything be done to ensure that Nigeria progressed in the ease of doing business ranking this year.
Mr. Osinbajo said the federal government was working on the right macro-economic policies to attract investors.
“Diligent efforts are being made to realize the clear instructions by the president that we must make significant progress in the ease of doing business ranking this year. We have set up an inter-ministerial committee with a presidential oversight to pursue that mandate,” he said.
Earlier, Minister of Solid Minerals, Kayode Fayemi, observed that the achievement of Kam Steel Company was capable of galvanizing the development of the sector, describing it as the single-largest private investment in the steel industry in Nigeria.
In 1958, the idea to establish a government-owned Steel Company was conceived but the politics of location killed the idea. The idea re-emerged in the mid-sixties at the threshold of the Nigerian crisis.
In 1967, during the Nigerian civil war, the idea matured into a bilateral relationship between Nigeria and the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and a team of Soviet experts was commissioned to conduct the feasibility study on setting up an integrated steel plant in Nigeria.
We have many steel companies like Ajakuta, Delta Steel, Jos Steel rolling mill etc.
The question is what went wrong? Where did we go wrong? Were the policies wrongly structured? Were the sequencing of edits and establishments wrong? Do we lay blame on the operators of the edits and policies? Was there any unforeseen design error?
Is it the fault of our physical or social environment? Are the gods to be blamed?
- O.N. Obikwelu, Professor & Head, Department of Metallurgical & Materials Engineering, University of Nigeria. Nsukka. and C.O. Nebo Vice Chancellor, Federal University of Technology, Ekiti wrote a paper called A CRITICAL LOOK AT THE NIGERIAN STEEL INDUSTRY —-A DARK PAGE ON THE HISTORY OF NIGERIA AND THE METALLURGICAL PROFESSION in which they make several interesting recommendations.
Foreign Technical Assistance should be scrapped:
Foreign technical assistance programs should be scrapped, permanent employment for specific periods (5 years or more) will be preferred to technical assistance so that the expatriate staff belong and participate fully in the affairs of the company.
The Nigerian Steel Industry had not benefited from the Technical Assistance program
Government raw materials policy should be revisited:
By the Government’s initial prescriptions on raw materials for the Steel Industry, raw materials deposits were to be sourced, located accessed, mined, beneficiated, refined and stockpiled before setting up the steel plants.
This was applicable to the Ajaokuta Steel Company, but along the line operators fouled
the edit. The operators so to say jumped the gun and lost the race
The National Metallurgical Development Centre, Jos established in 1971 before the final acceptance of the DPR for Ajaokuta Projects in1978 was expected to have performed laboratory scale beneficiation and analysis of raw materials for the steel industry and set up pilot plants for the above processes for commercialization far ahead of the commissioning of the steel plants.
Although the Centre acquired many useful equipment for metallurgical research, its operations failed to have relevance to the nagging problems of the Steel Industry.
Many problems plaguing the Steel Industry like refractories , product and process
development of the grindability and reducibility of iron ore concentrates were not adequately studied by the Centre.
The Centre was too far in their operations from the Steel Industries it was supposed to serve.
Lack of WILL:
Brazil which operated the same type of plant as Delta Steel Company hit the installed capacity after almost 10 years of operation, Argentina hit and surpassed their installed capacity after 7 years.
Venezuela after 11yeras, Egypt after 6 years, Iran after 10 years, Saudi Arabia after3 years, India after 7 years , South Africa hit above 50% after 4years
Delta Steel Company with the same plant configuration operated for more then 25years without attaining above 25% of its installed capacity.
Infrastructural problems, personnel problems, political problems, bribery and corruption are suspect contributing factors to this lack of will on the part of Nigerians.
The Steel Industry should be insulated from all these.
Quoting from President Obama’s Inaugural Address, “Starting today, we (Engineers/Metallurgists) must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and begin again the work of remaking America (the Nigerian Steel Industry).
For every where we (Engineers/Metallurgists) look there is work to be done….”.
Steel production and consumptions levels are evidences of national power. While United States of America Steel Consumption per capita is in excess of 700kg, Japan about 500kg, Nigeria’s steel consumption per capita is sprawling 25kg in the 21st century. Demand for steel in Nigeria is astronomical but no steel