The Group Managing Director, Inner Galaxy Group, promoter of the Hongxing Steel Company Limited, Mr Andy Lu, has pledged the commitment of his company towards enhancing domestic production of steel in the country.
Lu, urged the Nigerian government to see his company as a development partner, saying that a country like Nigeria, with huge gaps in infrastructure needs a vibrant steel industry, which he described as the bedrock of construction and manufacturing.
Lu, said this at the annual staff Christmas party and long service awards of Hongxing Steel Company Limited (a member of the Inner Galaxy Group), that took place in Lagos, recently
According to him, for such a critical sector, the nation cannot afford to depend on importation.
“That is why I am glad for the fact that we are helping to drive the cost of steel products. In the past importers of steel products could just flood the market with imported steel products.
“Today, we have made it more expensive for anybody to import and sell foreign steel products in Nigeria, but more importantly, our locally produced steel products are comparable to the best in the world.
“While commending the federal government of Nigeria for the support to genuine manufacturers in recent years, I think that there should be continuous dialogue between the federal government and the manufacturing sector, especially the steel manufacturing industry.
“If this happens effectively, not only that this sector will be a foreign exchange conserver, it will also be indeed a foreign exchange earner for the country. At the moment, we are already exporting our steel products to other West African countries, to the benefit of Nigerian economy,” he explained.
Lu, urged other manufacturers in the country to show faith in Nigeria, saying his experience from south-east Asia was that countries do experience challenges from time to time.
He added: “They survive because the critical sectors show faith and weather the storm with them; not to jump off the ship when the weather is bad.
“The truth is that the bad weather will not last forever. It always ends. On their part, government and its officials must keep the doors open and listen to genuine investors and manufacturers, to know their needs and know how best to support them to support the economy.”
According to Lu, 2018 marked the 10th year of successful operation for the company.
He said the annual event was important to the management of the company because it was its way of expressing its commitment to continue to ensure that its hard-working and loyal staff remain.
“We want a company where people who do the right things will be happy, whether they are Nigerian or Chinese. In the days ahead, we will create rewards for staff who demonstrate hard work, loyalty and teamwork, which are some of our important corporate values.
“The last 10years has not been an easy journey. But we have made significant progress.
“The Group started in Nigeria in 2008, Hongxing Steel, as our only company, with a factory at Amuwo Odofin, Lagos, producing about 1,000 metric tonnes. Today, we have several companies in the Group, with factories all over Nigeria, including Enugu, Benin, Abia where we have Inner Galaxy Steel Company, which, when fully completed, will be the largest Steel company in West Africa.
“Our combined production capacity has also increased to about 50,000 metric tonnes. In the area of employment opportunities we have created in this economy, our staff strength has grown from just 150 people employed in Hongxing in 2008, to about 3,000 people in the Group in 2018.
“Also very remarkable is the fact that the people who are indirectly employed either as suppliers of scrap or even transporters, and other related works, are far in excess of 10,000 people,” he said.
According to him, through its operations, the group has provided employment opportunities to those who ordinarily would have been considered “mere scavengers”. He stressed that “picking dirt has become a decent business. And by this we provide another important benefit to society – helping to clean up the environment.”
Lu added: “Our direct impact on the economy is also very remarkable. It is worthy of note that since the inception of Hongxing Steel Company, and our other associated steel companies, the cost of steel in Nigeria has been trending downwards.
“In fact, steel products are among the few manufactured or imported products that are cheaper today than they were a few years ago.”