By Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The improvement recorded by cement producers has helped increase the manufacturing sector’s contribution to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from about four per cent to approximately nine per cent, the Group Executive Director of Dangote Group, Mr. Edwin Devakumar, has said.
Devakumar disclosed this at the weekend in Abuja when he made a presentation titled: ‘the Nigerian Cement Sub-Sector: A Success Story in Solid Minerals Utilisation, at the 46th annual general meeting, Conference and Exhibition of the Nigerian Society of Chemical Engineers (NSChE).
He explained that the rebirth of local manufacturing of cement in Nigeria had led to a massive boost in mining operations across the country.
According to him, about 33 metric tonnes per annum of quarried materials were estimated to have been required to meet cement production in 2015.
He also said local cement production had created thousands of direct and indirect jobs and has displaced foreign exchange demand for cement importation, which would by now have grown to about $2 billion annually.
“It has increased revenue to government in form of taxes, not just from the cement manufacturers but also from other participants in the value chain.
“Cement scarcity is now a thing of the past as local production capacity outstrips demand. There is now prospects of forex earnings from cement exports to neighbouring countries. It is also a healthy addition to the stock exchange and distribution of wealth to the stockholders,” Devakumar said.
According to him, Nigeria’s solid minerals have at least 44 known minerals scattered across the length and breadth of the country and which include precious metals, base metals, bulk and rare earth minerals.
He said: “Although mining activities in Nigeria started over a hundred years ago, the mining industry in Nigeria has remained largely underdeveloped and its contribution to GDP, export earnings and employment are at present insignificant.”
He however stated that the resuscitation of cement manufacturing and its positive impact on mining activities in Nigeria had been a few bright spots in the mining industry, adding that the underlying fundamentals for cement demand was good and robust growth was expected over the medium term in future.
Similarly, in his address, the National President, NSChE, Prof. Emenike Wami, explained that no nation can claim to have developed if it engaged in mere trading activities.
He said true development comes from the establishment of a robust manufacturing base which creates windows of opportunities.
Wami also noted that chemical engineering was fundamental in driving development in manufacturing industries, as it essentially involves conversion of any primary material such as mineral, chemical or agricultural material into either intermediate or end products like cement, soap and detergent, fertilizer, sugar, flour, beverages, paints, vegetable oils, cosmetics, and toothpaste.
“So it is our objective to foster and promote the chemical engineering in theory and practice and enhance the usefulness of the profession to the public. For as chemical engineers, we are equipped with the right skills to develop and optimise the solid mineral sector in a way that will ensure a quick turnaround of our economy,” Wami said.