Patrick Ugeh in Abuja
The Ukrainian Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Serhii Khanenko, Tuesday unfolded plans by investors from his country to inject $2.6 billion into the reactivation of Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited.
Speaking during a courtesy visit to the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Alhaji Mohammed Sada, in Abuja, the ambassador, who was accompanied by the President, Ukrainian National Foreign Economic Corporation, Mr. Yergency Kazik, said with their business partner, Reprom Company Limited, the investors were ready to reactivate Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited to operate optimally.
Expressing optimism that the steel complex would be handed over to the Ukrainian companies to revamp, the envoy invited the minister and his management team to visit Ukraine to assess similar industrial complexes in the Eastern European country.
The Managing Director, Reprom Company Limited, Nigeria, Mr. Attah Achimugu, said the minister had requested the financial plan to revamp the Ajaokuta steel plant, having adopted the technical plan of the company.
He stated that currently Reprom has $2.65 billion to execute the project and ramp up production capacity to 3.9 metric tonnes of steel per annum.
The ambassador said the Ukrainian team came to explore areas of partnership with the Nigerian government in the development of its solid mineral resources as well as to specifically indicate their interest in the reactivation of the Ajaokuta steel complex.
Towards the sustainable growth of the steel sector, Sada said the Federal Government was ready to remove any bottleneck in the privatisation of steel companies in the country.
Describing the visit as timely and important, Sada said President Goodluck Jonathan had given timelines on all outstanding issues affecting the nation’s steel plants in order to move forward.
According to him, government was working proactively towards ensuring that the interest of various stakeholders is brought on board for the development of Nigeria’s steel industries.
Sada reiterated the present administration's determination to tackle all critical issues impeding the successful privatisation of the nation’s steel companies.
On the Ajaokuta proposition, the minister said: “We reiterated the need to come up with a clearer business model for the project, including cash flow; we also talked about sources of funds for this because we made it critically clear that government is not likely to invest, but is relying on the existing assets of the place to do business.
“We also talked about issues of technical capability and the type of privatisation arrangement that you would like government to have with the investors, and how they intend to tackle the issue of infrastructure, transportation and raw materials.”
He stated that government was handling the Ajaokuta plant and National Iron Ore Mining Company (NIOMCO) as two integrated plants that must work together for the optimal benefits of the steel industries.