Nigerian government has announced plans to ban the importation of steel products into the county to encourage local investors in the sector.
“My ultimate aim is that we ban steel importation into the country totally,” Nigeria’s Mines and Steel Development said.
“But before we do that, we must be able to satisfy local consumption from local production and have some excess for export, that is where we are heading,” the minister said.
The minister was speaking at a familiarisation visit to Kam Industries Limited, a privately owned steel manufacturing industry in Ilorin, Kwara State.
If it comes into effect, the ban will be a part of Nigeria’s tilt towards protectionism. The country closed its borders in August to limit smuggling in of rice and illegal export of petroleum products.
Adegbite said that though the ministry was responsible for steel production and development in the country, it is not in control of the quality of steel that came into the country.
This, he said, was the responsibility of Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), adding that the ministry is working with the organisation to ensure that steel that come into the country is controlled and meet the right standard.
The minister’s comment to make Nigeria steel sufficient comes weeks after Nigeria got a bilateral agreement with Russia to resuscitate the Ajaokuta steel rolling mill.
Construction of Ajaokuta Steel Co. began in 1979 with assistance from the then-Soviet Union, but the facility never started production and has sucked up $8 billion of public money. Repeated attempts to revive the flagship project by transferring it to private investors failed and the government terminated the concessions.
Resuscitating Ajaokuta Steel would go some way to realizing President Muhammadu Buhari’s plans to diversify the economy away from oil and encourage local production. Ajaokuta was designed to produce as much as 3 million metric tons of steel a year, and would have largely eliminated the need for imports.
Olamilekan Adegbite has since expressed his desire to see mining to contribute 3% of the country’s GDP by 2025.