The Nigerian government has said it is targeting one million metric tonnes (MT) of steel from the $1.5 billion steel plant about to be completed in Kaduna State, which it believes will attract auto companies to the country.
Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning Zainab Ahmed, who made the declaration at an inspection of the African Natural Resources and Mines, a Kaduna-based African Industries Group firm, on Saturday stated that the plant would help end steel importation into the country.
“We have deliberately attracted various industries to come into Nigeria. This is because one of the main impediments to industrialisation has been the scarcity of high quality steel.
“So by this project we are now assured that we can attract the auto industries of the world to come into Nigeria and produce cars in Nigeria for Nigerians, as well as for the region.”
She observed the company would be the first company that is producing steel made in Nigeria which will be used by industries and help the country conserve its foreign exchange while speeding up its quest for industrialisation.
“There’s no country in the world that will be industrialised without having a stable steel industry. Your partnership with us as government means we are very much on the side to meet the aspiration of industrialising Nigeria,” Mrs Ahmed said.
The Nigerian government has itself committed funds in the region of $6 billion to the construction of the Ajaokuta Steel Mill project, which has been in the works since 1967 and has been stalled at between 95% and 98% completion since 1994 even though it has not produced a single bar of steel.
It said in January Afreximbank and the Russian Export Centre would fund the $1.5 billion needed to complete the project, one of the country’s biggest industrial ventures, situated on a 24,000-hectare expanse but no major progress has been reported since then.
“Producing one million metric tons of steel per annum means that Nigeria will really be well on its way of being independent of importing steel into our country and this will attract other investors to come into Nigeria.
“One of the main impediments has been the scarcity of high quality steel but with this project, we are now assured that we can attract the auto industries of the world to come into Nigeria and produce cars in Nigeria for Nigerians as well as for the region,” Ahmed said.
Alok Gupta, group managing director of African Industry Group, disclosed that the firm would mine iron ore to produce Direct Reduced Iron that would enable the firm produce better quality grade of steel more efficiently.
“This investment in the long term will dramatically increase domestic steel production. We are capable of producing over one million metric tonnes in a year.
“We are proud to be part of the looming steel revolution in Nigeria. Having invested over $1.5bn, we are hopeful that the expected steel revolution will have multiplier effects on the Nigerian economy,” he said.
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