Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved a new policy to localise operations and materials used in Nigeriaâ€™s building and construction industry, the Minister of Water Resources, Mr. Suleiman Adamu, has disclosed.
Adamu stated this in his opening remarks at the 28th edition of the annual Archibuilt Conference and Exhibition, organised by the Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA) yesterday in Abuja.
He explained that the new policy would aim to improve the application of local contents including materials; personnel; and skills by operators in Nigeriaâ€™s construction industry, adding that the move was targeted at giving operators and indigenous manufacturers of construction materials in the sector some advantages over foreign competition.
Adamu also explained that between 1990 and 2017, the number of Nigerians that have access to clean pipe borne water supply had declined from 30 per cent to just about seven per cent, adding that over the years, investments in water infrastructure have dwindled.
The Minister of Power, Works, and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, had stated in the recent past that the government would initiate a policy to domesticate materials and skills used in the countryâ€™s built and construction industry, to save her foreign exchange used in importing most of the components.
Adamu, however, noted that the government had considered the need to checkmate the influx of foreign manufactured construction materials into the country, as well as skills which he said were hurting the economy of the country.
He stated that the new policy would be implemented by the Ministry of Science and Technology, and should comprehensively give Nigerians in the construction industry the leverage to rise and dominate activities therein with minimal competition from foreign parties.
â€œThree or four weeks ago, this administration came up with a very important policy which has not been given more attention. We passed a policy on local content in the entire construction industry at the Federal Executive Council,â€ said Adamu said.
He further stated: â€œBy that, we intend to encourage not only consultants to rise through the value chain in the construction industry but also manufacturers so that a lot of emphasis will be put on Nigerians, that we can develop our skills and strengths in such a way that we will dominate activities in the construction industry.
â€œThat will provide an opportunity for us to begin to cash in on the opportunities that are there for Nigerian manufacturers.â€
Speaking on the impacts of imported construction materials on the final output of the construction industry as well as the countryâ€™s water supply sector, Adamu explained that the three tiers of government – federal; states; and local governments-were currently unable to build more water supply facilities because imported materials were expensive to procure.
He said: â€œEven in the water sector which I am heading now, it is a serious challenge. 60 to 70 per cent of the components that are required to set up a water supply scheme are imported, and it is so expensive, and we need this water seriously, but it is becoming unaffordable for many states and local governments that have the responsibility to develop water infrastructure.
â€œThe idea of looking inwards for solutions is very dear to us. We must find a way to get materials and use materials in the country, otherwise it will be very difficult for us. As I am talking to you now, in the water sector, we have moved from 30 per cent of our population being supplied pipe borne water in 1990, to seven per cent today because states and the federal government cannot invest in the required infrastructure.
â€œThere has been no investment in the water sector recently. The last investments were done in the colonial era,â€ he added.