Despite expectations, solid minerals in Nigeria cannot easily displace oil as a dominant sector of its economy, investigation has revealed.
It was projected that in five years time, foreigners will be flooding the country, with interest on the solid minerals investments, estimated to be raking a minimum of $10 billion (about 25 percent of the country’s GDP) in the next four years.
But it has been revealed that foreign investors are still focusing much attention on South Africa and other countries in the Southern African sub-region, known for their lead in the industry, especially, coal.
Also, the investors cite cases of kidnappings and insurgence, in parts of the country, as having helped in denying Nigeria the much expected foreign investment.
Efforts by the Ministers of Solid Minerals, to woo foreign investors over have not been yielding positive results in the past, and the renewd energy by the present administration has only increased the number of local investors by 30 percent.
“We are actually targeting big-time investors from Europe and America. But they are asking that we give them time to sort a few things out,” this was how a senior official in the ministry described the development.
Though he refused to state the number of would-be investors that requested for time and what exactly is the reason for the reluctance to invest in the sector, it was gathered that the inability of government to find solution to some security challenges facing Nigeria was fingered.
The cost of running a mining business in Nigeria was said to be on the higher side as there is no strong infrastructure-backbone, when compared with the situation in south Africa.
While government is focusing attention on coal, there is little or no much emphasis on other minerals, including gold, bauxite, tin ore and others.
At present, individuals, who have interest in exploring any of the minerals easily have access to sites after having an understanding with the local leaders of the community.
But the Mining Cadastral Office (MCO), a department in the Ministry, has denied that it contributes negatively in discouraging investors interested in the industry.
The MCO Director General, Mr. Ibrahim Amate, said his outfit had, in a bid to encourage investors to come into the sector, deployed a system that makes processing and issuing of mining licence possible within a month to any applicant.
By Emma Eke….
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