VENTURES AFRICA – Nigeria has announced that imported packaged sugars (finished cube and granulated), especially raw sugar, will be officially banned by January 2013 as part of the sugar master plan and the Industrial Revolution Plan that initiated to improve the country economically.
According to Nigeria’s Minister of Trade, Olusegun Aganga, “Under the new sugar master plan, all imported packaged retail sugar has been banned from coming into the country with effect from January 2013”
Aganga said this while speaking at that Ministry of Trade and Investment’s second annual seminar for Trade and Investment correspondents and Business editors in Abuja with the theme “Leveraging Nigeria’s Modest Economic Gains for Enhanced Growth.”
He stated that with the recent approval of the new sugar policy by President Goodluck Jonathan, the country is serious about improving its economic investment which will in turn create wealth and job opportunities for Nigerians.
According to him, the newly-approved sugar policy will create 117 direct jobs, provide 411.7 mega watts of power, save the country $3.5 million (N565.8 million) in foreign exchange, produce 1.7 million metric tonnes of sugar and 116million litres of ethanol.
Aganga declared that under the new sugar policy, all importers will be mandated to have their own sugarcane farms in the country or become out growers if they are to continue having licenses to import brown sugar for refining into the country.
“Sugar is set to follow the cement example where Nigeria has achieved self-sufficiency and is set to start exporting soon,” he said.
Citing examples of African countries like Kenya and Sudan who rely heavily on sugar for economic survival, the Minister said the new sugar policy was not just about policies but about the right policies.
He explained that if this step had been taken earlier it would have remarkably advanced the economy of the country in terms of industrial revolution.
The Minister noted with 98 percent of sugar used in the country are imported and that Nigeria had been losing about N568 billion ($4 billion) yearly to the importation of brown sugar.
Aganga asserted that Nigeria’s export of raw materials is not sustainable to enhance its industrialisation drive.
“Despite being a net exporter of raw materials, Nigeria is yet to add value to its economy since the last five decades. The focus has been more on awarding contracts than enhancing industrial growth. Nigeria cannot sustain its exportation of raw materials because it would suffer. There is a need to enhance the exportation of finished products,” he said.
The Trade Minister added that, “ If we are true to our industrial revolution plan, we need to encourage local companies and begin the exportation of finished goods rather than allow the international community to refine the products and import back to the country.
“Nigeria is currently producing more cement than the market needs. There are plans with Dangote Cement Plc to make the exportation of cement a reality.”
Aganga also disclosed that in terms of competitiveness ranking, Nigeria has increased by 12 points to 115 this year while improvement was also visible in its rank in the global corruption index as the country dropped from 143 to 139.
“In all the indicators we have had an increase this year, but that is not where we want to be. We have targets of where we want to be in the next four years,” he said.
The minister added that Nigeria’s position on the doing business ranking in reality was better than its current rating because milestones have been recorded by the ministry after the month of June. He said high-points such as the Ports reforms and the 24 hour registration of new business entities by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) were not taken into consideration before the compilation of the report.