Yemisi Izuora/Ijeoma Agudosi
The federal government has resolved to end importation of petrochemical products into the country.
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Olusegun Aganga, said by 2018 the importation would seize.
He said with the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP) launched by government, the importation of petrochemical products which currently costs the nation about $10 billion annually will be a thing of the past.
The minister stated this during a courtesy visit to power solutions company, Mikano International Limited, stressing, “The message of this administration is very clear. We can no longer be a country that is import dependent especially on product we can produce in this country. There are many sectors we should have developed as a country but we relied for decades on exporting raw materials which is oil. That era is gone and this is why the president launched the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP) in 2012,” he said.
“If the investment goes according to plan, by 2018, we will no longer import petroleum products into the country and that will save us a minimum of about $10 billion, we spend about $3 billion importing steel, we spend about $6 billion importing cars and spare parts and also spend about.$1.7 billion importing sugar where we can grow sugar cane to get sugar. Jonathan is actually the solution to the debacle we have had for decades and the idea is a matter of time to let him get the plan completed,” he added.
According to him, under the NIRP, the government’s approach is to diversify the nation’s economy revenue sources to boost economic growth.
In his words, “Today, the falling oil price, devaluation of the Nigeria have gotten Nigerians all surprised because for decades, we have adopted the wrong policies.
But for the first time in history of this country, we have a robust and comprehensive plan which we started implementing in 2012 to diversify the economy based on areas where we have a comparative advantage.”
He pointed out that Nigeria is the eight largest producer of crude oil and eleventh in terms of gas reserves, but stressed that the country has been wrong for decades exporting crude oil with no value addition.
“When you export crude raw materials, you create jobs for other countries only to buy them back with the proceeds we got from exporting the raw materials in the first place. This is not good for the economy because we loose all the value addition in that process,” he said.
He said his administration has always being about value addition based on a blue print using local content which had attracted about $14 billion dollars in the petrochemical sector.
He also noted that the present administration’s approach is to move towards import substitution, stressing that Nigeria as a nation can no longer afford to remain import dependent.
“If we do not address this as a nation in the next three to four years, we will be in a very big trouble in terms of our economic development,” he warned.
He commended the two factories, saying that they are in line with the NIRP, maintaining that the country is wasting its foreign reserves importing products it can produce.
Also speaking at the event, the Chairman, Mikano International Limited, Mr. Mofid Karameh, described the minister’s visit as an indication of government’s support to industrial development in the country.
He said for over the past few years, industrial development has been neglected, but stressed that the industrial sector has began to experience some improvements such as support from the government in duties and patronage.
He noted that the company when it started operations was using only 10 per cent of local content, but has shoot up its operations using about 40 per cent local content for its operations.
He also going forward, Mikano is planning to establish an assembly plant and also go into full manufacturing of transformers in Nigeria, stressing that Nigeria imports about $2.5 billion worth of electrical components with transformers gulping about $1.2 billion out of the amount.
“If we can produce transformers locally, it will go a long way to save the countries foreign exchange, “ he said.
The Managing Director, Mikano International Limited, Mr. Christian Faren, stated that Nigeria has improved in terms of its power supply, saying that it would have a positive impact for the business community.
According to him, Mikano has different projects in different parts of the country to boost power supply in the country, pointing out that it is also going into diversification to meet the energy needs of Nigerians.