Minister of State, Ministry of Mines and Steel Development Mr. Abubakar Bwari has joined foreign investors to appeal to banks to invest in mining.
He made this known while declaring open the first Nigeria Metallurgical Industry Stakeholders’ Forum (MISF) held in Abuja.
The theme of the forum was: “Nigeria’s economic and industrial development through value addition in the metal sector”.
Bwari said the foreign investors made the appeal in Australia at a mining forum where they complained about Nigerianw banks’ non-commitment to the sector.
He added that of the African countries at the forum, Nigeria was most focused on investment interests.
“At the Nigeria’s roundtable forum, most of the investors from Australia had one complaint that had to do with our investors and not the foreign investors.
“They said the Nigerian banks were not ready to fund mining and know little or nothing about mining.
“So, the ball is in our court, as stakeholders, to bring mining before the banks so that the Nigerian banks can be educated on what it is about,” he said.
The Minister said effort would also highlight some of the challenges that had to do with mining and the way out.
He said in as much as the government was paying attention to mining as a means of diversifying the economy, there was need for Nigerian banks to play their own role.
Bwari said modern mining would soon commence in Nigeria, with Bauchi State being the first beneficiary because of its large deposit of zinc.
He said the metal industry had a great impact on other sectors of the economy, adding that the prospects of a vibrant metal industry in Nigeria include foreign exchange earnings and sustenance.
The Minister also said it would contribute to increase in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and create job opportunities as well as acquisition of technical skills leading to technology transfer to Nigerians.
According to him, the stakeholders’ forum would be organised periodically to proffer solutions to the challenges of the metal sector and educate the metallurgical operators on the government’s policy direction.
Giving the history of the metallurgical and allied plants in the country, Bwari said many were established by investors from far and near, but expressed concern that some had either closed down or were about to do so.
He identified lack of effective government policies to guide and regulate the activities of operators in the sector and lack of commitment by persons assigned to run public enterprises as some of the challenges.
Others, he said, were corruption and economic sabotage by Nigerians, unfavourable and sometimes inconsistent fiscal policies and inadequate and expensive power supply with the attendant danger of power generating sets.
Earlier, the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Dr. Abdulkadir Mua’azu, said the administration was poised to creating an enabling environment for metallurgical operators to thrive.
This, he said, was necessary to generate employment, create wealth and reduce poverty.
Mua’azu also said to achieve its goals, the ministry had articulated some strategies and activities for the development of the metallurgical sector to take it to the next level.
“They include: ensuring presidential assent to the Nigerian Metallurgical Industrial Bill, which has passed the second reading at the floor of the Senate and collaboration with all relevant government agencies,” he said.
He also said the ministry was liaising with the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to curb dumping of substandard steel and other metal products in Nigeria and export of banned scrap metals.
House Committee on Steel and Metallurgy Chairman, Lawal Idrisu, said as a nation, there was the need to encourage players in the industry by way of incentives through creation of special funding.
“Availability of funds cannot be overemphasised and this is because accessing these funds for investments is very important.
“For example, the lowest cost of interest rate of less than five per cent will invariably boost investment in this sector.
“I therefore implore our policy makers to look into this as we in the parliament will be able to support this kind of gesture with legislation,” he said.
The House Committee chair said Nigeria should focus on the multiplier effects of the policy on the economy.
He listed the multiplier effects to include creation of wealth and increase in the revenue that would accrue to government through taxes and other remunerations.
The two-day forum was attended by government officials and captains of the steel and metallurgical industry.