The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, last weekend said Nigeria may end steel importation soon when a $1.5 billion steel plant being built by African Natural Resources and Mines Limited at Jere in Kaduna State comes on stream.
The firm has one million metric tonnes (MT) capacity of daily production.
The minister who inspected the plant along with the management of the company, further noted that Nigeria was on the path of industrialization which will be yielding results five years from now.
“Producing one million metric tonnes 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,” Zainab said.
The other benefits of this, she added, are for the auto industry. “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 Nigeria to produce cars in Nigeria for Nigerians as well as for the region.
“From what I am told and I could immediately see, this is going to make a huge difference. This will be the first company that is producing steel, made in Nigeria high quality steel, that will be used by our industries and it will help us conserve our foreign exchange and help us fast-track our journey towards industrialization,” the minister noted.
After her assessment of the plant, she said, “Just from entering here, I can see that the African Natural Resources and Mines Ltd project is a major partner for Nigeria’s economic development, as well as its diversification.
“The design of your programme of mining the ore that will be used to produce high-grade steel means it is a well-planned and thought-out project. The impact will go beyond the steel industry; I can see a very significant value chain effect including the support that you have provided for the people of Jere Local Government.”
She further stated that the company donated N1.35bn to Nigeria to support the fight against COVID-19.
The Group Managing Director, African Industries Group, Alok Gupta, said the project will revolutionise the steel industry in Nigeria as the firm could produce 1m MT of steel every year.
“Our work here will revolutionise the steel industry in Nigeria. We will be mining iron ore to produce Direct Reduced Iron (DRI) which will, in turn, allow African industries to manufacture higher-grade steel more efficiently,” Gupta said.
He also reiterated his belief in the Nigerian project. “We believe Nigeria has a brighter future in the steel industry. With its vast potential, this nation will soon be a steel hub. We are proud to be part of the looming steel revolution in Nigeria.
“Having invested over $1.5 billion, we are hopeful that the expected steel revolution will have multiplier effects on the Nigerian economy,” he said.
Mr Gupta also harped on the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) of the company, saying it was doing projects for the Jere community, among others.
“On a social level, we have been at the forefront of supporting many laudable projects. Our group donated N1.35 billion to the federal government to combat the ravaging effects of COVID 19. Also, recently, we donated N20m to the Kaduna State government led by Malam Nasir el-Rufai for the forthcoming Kaduna Marathon, to mention but a few.
“I wish to assure that in the coming days we will continue to be associated with projects that would impact positively on the lives of the good people of Nigeria,” Gupta stated.