VENTURES AFRICA – The Federal Government of Nigeria has reinstated its commitment to support growth of the steel industry as Western Metal Products Company Limited (WEMPCO) test ran its new multi-billion naira integrated cold roll steel mill at Magboro, Ogun State, Nigeria.
The inauguration of the steel plant will fill in the vaccum that has riddled the Nigerian steel industry following the failure that has been recorded in the past at Ajaokuta.
According to the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Musa Sada, who visited the new integrated steel mill; the Federal Government made a peculiar mistake in its past efforts to privatise the Ajaokuta Steel Complex by putting emphasis on money as the most important consideration in its choice of management team. The Minister said the government will be more careful in future in the choice of the next prospective managers of Ajaokuta Steel Company.
Sada stated that the federal government has a goal that three million tonnes of steel should be produced in Nigeria a year. He said this did not mean that government would revive its plants to do this but “wish to openly invite more investors for development in steel production”.
Government, he stated, would introduce policies that would support and encourage investors in the development of the steel sector.
Some of the downstream usage/ products that can be derived from the mill are automobile/truck body building, roofing sheets, pipes, all kinds of metal containers including food storage, steel furniture, strips, enamelware, storage tanks, electric appliances, washing machines, motor cycles, machinery structure and body, the minister said.
Sada however lamented that the usage of steel in Nigeria is still low compared to countries like China.
“In a country like China for instance, per capital steel consumption is 400 kilogrammes, whereas in Nigeria we are just close to 18 kilogrammes. At the point when this administration came in, the number was 10 kilogrammes. We therefore have a very large gap to fill.”
He posits that steel is the basic metal and backbone of all industries. “It facilitates infrastructural development and promotes creation of employment opportunities. In any country, all aspects of industrialisation require steel.”
The new steel plant according to WEMPCO’s group Managing Director, Lewis Tung, has a production capacity of 700, 000 metric tonnes which will will produce cold roll steel sheets and coils, from 0.15 millimeter thicknesses and above.
Tung said his company is “ready to receive materials from the upstream industry. This is a way to encourage investors to go into the upstream and back stream. The steel industry is the source of employment. Upstream is a source of huge employment opportunities. So also is back stream which accounts for spinoff industries that are not directly related to the steel industry.”
The managing Director also collaborated the Minister’s believe. According to him, “Steel is the basic metal and backbone of all industries. It facilitates infrastructural development and promotes creation of employment opportunities. In any country, all aspects of industrialisation require steel. Thus, steel is very crucial and fundamental to any industrial development and industries should be supported.
“All advanced countries of the world started their industrial revolutions through the development of steel. Similarly, developing nations laid the foundation of their development through steel development capabilities. Nigeria needs to encourage the development of its steel industry in order to foster development drive,” Tung added.