Abubakar Yerima writes that the Ministry of Steel is striving to make a difference
In a testament to the commitment to revitalizing Nigeria’s metallurgical and steel sectors, Minister of State for Steel Development Uba Maigari Ahmadu has orchestrated a series of transformative initiatives aimed at driving economic growth, job creation, and poverty eradication.
Under his leadership, the National Metallurgical Training Institute (NMTI) in Onitsha that was established to create a pool of indigenous technical workforce that can erect, commission, operate and maintain the steel and allied industries all on their own, and drastically cut down on Nigeria’s dependence on foreign technical training as well as to develop highly skilled, practical and production oriented low and middle level skilled manpower, is undergoing a remarkable reorientation and revival.
With a strategic focus on training at least 100,000 individuals annually out of which 35% will be women, the minister has set the stage for creating a skilled workforce to meet the industry’s demands and bolstering President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda.
The minister’s unwavering dedication has also extended to the revival of the National Steel Raw Materials Exploration Agency (NSRMEA) in Kaduna, positioning it as a geo-scientific information center for investors and researchers in the solid minerals sector.
This strategic move has not only enhanced the agency’s capabilities but has also created an enabling environment for the exploration and development of Nigeria’s rich mineral resources, further reinforcing the nation’s position as an attractive destination for investment in the sector.
Crucially, these achievements have been made possible through the collective efforts of a well-trained, dedicated, and motivated workforce that is technologically driven and focused. His emphasis on capacity building and the adoption of modern exploration techniques has been instrumental in positioning Nigeria as a hub for cutting-edge research and development in the metallurgical and steel sectors, thereby attracting significant interest from domestic and international stakeholders.
In a landmark development, the collaborative efforts of the Ministry of Steel Development and the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) have culminated in the facilitation of a groundbreaking $300 million investment in the steel sector by Niger Extraction Company Ltd. This substantial investment not only underscores the confidence of the private sector in Nigeria’s steel industry but also heralds a new era of growth, innovation, and technological advancement in the sector.
Moreover, Mr. Uba Maigari Ahmadu’s multi-layered policy approach inclusive of establishing a technical working relationship with the Federal Ministry of Innovation, Science and Technology for the promotion of its welding policy and support for the Technology Innovation Centres across the country, the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (SMEDAN), National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) the Metallurgical Training Institute and the National Steel Raw Materials Exploration Agency are being rejigged and repositioned to carry out their core functions of providing high-quality training, promote research and development, offer consultancy services, enhance capacity building, and foster collaboration in order to support the growth, development, and sustainability of the metallurgical and mining sectors in Nigeria.
His proactive engagement with various stakeholders, both domestically and internationally, has been pivotal in promoting the steel sector and attracting much-needed foreign direct investment (FDI) to Nigeria.
Through targeted outreach programmes, industry roundtables, and investor forums, the minister is effectively positioning Nigeria as a prime investment destination, fostering partnerships that are poised to drive sustainable economic development and prosperity in the country.
In furtherance to above, the minister is working on the optimization of revenues from the metals sector. This is as the contribution of this sector to the GDP has been very low due to low capacity utilization, under reporting of the contributions from the sector, as well as dumping of imported sub-standard metal products amongst other factors. A mechanism is being established to sensitize the MSMEs in the sector on proper reporting of their contributions.
He has scheduled a nationwide facility inspection to establish and address the root causes of low capacity utilization. The minister is also synergizing with relevant stakeholders like Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON) to curb the incidences of dumping of imported sub-standard metal products into the country to protect local producers.
The overall target is to ensure that the sector records over 5% contribution to GDP before the end of the current administration. As Nigeria’s metallurgical and steel sectors undergo a period of transformative change, the minister’s achievements stand as a testament to the potential for sustainable growth and prosperity in the industry.
With a renewed focus on collaboration, innovation, and investment, his leadership has set the stage for a vibrant and competitive steel industry that holds promise for economic advancement and progress in Nigeria.
Yerima is the Coordinating Special Adviser to the Honourable Minister of State for Steel Development