The Chairman and Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of BUA Group, Abdul samad Rabiu, has lamented that the country spends about $3billion on importation of steel for local and industrial use.
In a chat with journalists in Lagos, Rabiu sought the support of the federal government in encouraging businesses to substitute importation, noting that if financing support is provided, the $3billion import bill in the steel sector can be saved.
The industrialist emphasised the need to build industries where raw materials can be easily accessed locally for production while also restating its company’s resolve to bridge the gap of about two million metric tonnes of imported raw sugar in the country.
He added that Nigeria imports about two million metric tonnes of raw sugar for local refining every year, adding that such practice is not sustainable.
To address the shortfall, Rabiu stated that the company remains committed to the Backward Integrated Policy of the Nigerian Sugar Master Plan with its increased investments in the 20,000 hectares Lafiagi Sugar and 50,000 hectares Bassa Sugar plantations.
While recounting his experience in Uganda, Rabiu explained that Nigeria has the land and capacity to crush tonnes of sugar cane to produce refined sugar, with potential to explore the export market.
Earlier, the Group Executive Director at BUA Group, Kabiru Rabiu, stated that BUA is making a total investment of over $300 million in Lafiagi Sugar Company to cover the plantation, sugar mill, its refinery, the ethanol and power plants, as well as the complete agricultural aspects of the project.
He also added that upon full completion, the Lafiagi sugar mill with refinery will have capacity to crush about 7,000 tonnes of cane per day and produce over 140,000 tonnes of pure refined white sugar, about 25 million litres of ethanol, generate 35 megawatts of electricity as well as generate employment opportunities for over 10,000 people.
Corroborating the claim of Rabiu recently, Founder of African Foundries Limited, Parduma Gupta, said the company produces about one million tonnes of steel rods, which accounts for about 60-70 per cent of the entire steel rods required in Nigeria, adding that it employs about 8,000 and 10,000 both directly and indirectly.
He also added that the scarcity of scrap in the country is becoming a threat to the steel sector.
He said, “We have been using iron scrap as our raw material but the increasing scarcity is becoming a threat to the industry, we approached the federal government and was advised to explore the usage of Iron ore. The challenge is that the percentage of iron content in the domestically available iron ore is much lesser than what is needed.
“We have to make further heavy investments to introduce the latest technology for the increase of iron ore content suitable for steel production. This project is at an advance stage and hopefully we will be able to make Nigeria self- sufficient for its requirement of Iron rods”. He explained.