Nigeria spends $3.3bn annually on importation of steel products, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, has said.
Fayemi stated this in Abuja on Thursday at the meeting of the National Council on Mining and Mineral Resources.
He said with the signing of a Modified Concession Agreement between the Federal Government and Global Infrastructure Nigeria Limited, Nigeria was on the threshold of import substitution in the steel sector to stop the bleeding of the country through the importation of steel products.
The minister also disclosed that the country was on the threshold of arranging $600m funding for the development of the steel sector alongside a variety of partners.
He said, “A major achievement is the signing of a ‘Modified Concession Agreement’ between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Global Infrastructure Nigeria Limited, effectively resolving the protracted litigation surrounding the ownership of the Ajaokuta Steel Company and National Iron Ore Mining Company.
“With this development, both NIOMCO and Ajaokuta Steel Company have been freed from eight years of dormancy that was occasioned by the protracted arbitration between the Federal Government and GINL.
“The implication of the signing is that the ownership of Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited has now reverted to the Federal Government and we can now proceed to engage a new core investor with the financial and technical capacity to run the steel complex.”
Fayemi added, “The operationalisation of the ASC will provide the needed inputs to support the infrastructure requirements of the country and lead to import substitution, and save the country about $3.3bn annually spent on the importation of steel products.
“The Nigerian steel dream, conceived in the 1970s, but which has been elusive, is once again on the way to becoming a reality. The ministry is similarly working in concert with industry stakeholders to expand the domestic processing of our other ores, which will lead to the creation of jobs and reduce the pressure on our naira.
“To stem the illegal trading of minerals, the ministry has registered over 30 mineral buying centres, and enacted the revenue and reporting compliance agreement with the Nigeria Customs Service, which has improved the policing of mineral exports.”