By Sheriff Balogun in Abeokuta
The National Sugar Development Council (NSDC) has unveiled its master plan to create about 117,000 jobs after the end of its 10-year plan of the Nigerian Sugar Master Plan (NSMP) by 2023.
Acting Executive Secretary of the Council, Mr. Samuel Ali Kwabe disclosed this plan in Abeokuta, the Ogun state capital during a recent Sugar sensitisation workshop with the theme ‘Sustaining the gains of NSMP for National Self-Sufficiency in Local Sugar Production’.
He said: “It will also substantially reduce importation of sugar to conserve the huge foreign exchange spent on imports annually; generate about 411MW of electricity; and create about 117,000 jobs etc.”
Kwabe noted that the master plan had also been adopted by the Federal Government “as a Road Map” to national self-sufficiency in sugar.
According to him, the road map is meant to provide the enabling environment and support to investment initiatives in employment generation, sugar cane cultivation and sugar factory processing operations.
The Executive Secretary, who was represented by Director Policy Planning Research and Statistics (PPRS), Mr. Kolawole Hezekiah, stated that the NSMP commenced in January 2013 “and it is expected that by the end of the 10-year plan period, Nigeria would have built up the industrial capacity required to among other benefits, produce about 1.79m metric tonnes of sugar and 161.2 litres of ethanol.”
He said all hands must be on deck to consolidate the modest gains already recorded and ensure successful implementation of the 10-year plan to the very end.
“It is therefore, my humble appeal that states government and local communities would give adequate support to facilitate the release of identified land for commercial sugar projects in their domain”, he added.
However, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Alhaji Aminu Aliyu Bisala said the time to organise the workshop, “which seeks to mobilise and enlighten the stakeholders on the abundant opportunities in the Nigerian sugar sector for investment purposes cannot be more opportune than now.”
He further stressed that “the need to create awareness about the potentials that exist for investors in the sugar sub sector is also critical particularly at this time of our national life when government is confronted frontally by the challenges of unemployment with the attendant social vices; low value of Naira in relation to other world major currencies with the balance of payment problems; poverty and low standard of living; etc. The investment opportunities and versatility of the nation’s sugar sub-sector cannot be over-emphasised.”
Bisala, who was equally represented by Airiohuodion Moses, advised both the industrial players and the regulatory agency- NSDC “to be consistent and focused in playing their different roles in order to ensure that Nigeria achieves self-sufficiency in her local sugar requirement at the end of the 10-year plan period.”