Nigeria’s Minister of Mines and Steel Development Kayode Fayemi says that Nigeria is spending over $3.5 billion yearly on the importation of steel products.Fayemi told journalists after a meeting with stakeholders in the mining sector in Lagos that the expression of interest by investors for the Ajaokuta Steel Complex would happen with the next six months.
The report by a local newspaper, the Independent newspaper on Monday quoted the minister as saying that steel remains the backbone of industrialisation in any country and that any country that wants to make headway in manufacturing and industrialisation must pay particular attention to steel development.
“In Nigeria, we utilise about seven million metric tonnes of steel on an annual basis; we produce less than three million from scrap metal, and even the scrap is being depleted now. So, we run the risk of depending almost solely on importation. We spend over $3.5bn importing steel products into Nigeria annually. So, you can see the opportunity cost and the importance of ensuring that Ajaokuta Steel comes on stream,” he said.
According to the minister, the government is determined to ensure that the litigation around Ajaokuta Steel is resolved to enable those with the technical knowledge and financial capacity to intervene and bring it to life “in a manner that liquid steel can be produced from our own iron ore endowment and then made available to rolling mills across Nigeria for direct steel production”.
The Nigerian Government had earlier announced that it would sell the Ajaokuta Steel Complex to a private sector operator with the capacity to turn around the fortunes of the beleaguered company.