Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo
Text of Speech
Delivered by His Excellency, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo
At the National Mining Summit
Held on 13th June, 2017
At the International Conference Centre, Abuja
Let me say first how pleased I am to be here, joining you today at this national mining summit. The pun in the theme of the conference “Unearthing Nigeria’s Mining Sector’’ showed that the miners have a sense of humour. But more importantly, it underscores the earth-moving task before us and the enormous opportunities.
We need to unearth this incredible source of growth for us and for our continent.
This summit marks another step on the journey towards achieving the African mining vision. That vision adopted by the African Heads of State back in 2009, aimed at leveraging Africa’s vast mineral resources to liberate the continent from the shackles of poverty and perpetual underdevelopment. (That vision was also) to change the African narrative of the so-called resource curse, zero-fuelled conflicts, severe environmental degradation and marginalised host communities to one of sustainable growth and socio-economic development underpinned by a transparent, equitable and optimal exploitation of mineral resources and inclusive development.
For us in Nigeria, this summit is also a key step for implementing our economic recovery and growth plan launched in April by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The mining sector is a priority for the Nigerian government and a crucial part of our economic growth and diversification agenda.
The President has seized every opportunity over the last two years to highlight the diversification vision and the central role of the mining sector in it.
The argument for diversification is of course, a straight-forward one. We are all witnesses to the impact on our revenues and on the economy generally of the recent decline in oil prices. And this is so for many countries such as ours that are one commodity based.
We suffered depletion of our external reserves and by extension, a shortage of foreign exchange for our businesses and the economy slipped into recession. That is what over-dependence on one product and in our case, crude oil, has done to us. But it should not be so especially given our abundant mineral resources. And of course, this includes precious metals and industrial minerals.
There is therefore no better time to make that long over-due transition from an oil-based economy to a truly diversified global competitive one, creating tens of thousands of jobs and promoting industrialization in the process.
The Federal Government is determined to achieve these goals of the mining sector in spite of the many legacies we inherited including low funding, lack of geological data, weak institutional capacity of the supervising ministry and limited infrastructure, limited federalism, limited cooperative federalism, low productivity, illegal mining, weak framework for managing host communities, difficulties in doing business and protected litigation on legacy assets.
We have started tackling these issues head-on and I am pleased to note the substantial successes that we have achieved through the combined efforts of the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development and other ministries and agencies of government and our development partners and other stakeholders.
A published comprehensive roadmap for the growth and development of the Nigerian mining sector is to guide and drive the restructuring and repositioning of the mining sector over the next 10 years.
We have also secured funding from both domestic and international sources for investment in the solid minerals industry. From the public purse, the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development has been granted access to the mining sector component of our natural resources development fund for a sum of N30 billion (approximately $100 million), an intervention fund from the Federal Government.
This is partly to help provide cheap loans and grants to industry participants as well as for directly investing in foundational infrastructure.
We are currently working with the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority, the Nigerian Stock Exchange and others to assemble as we just heard from the DG of the Stock Exchange, a $600 million investment fund for the sector.
Internationally, we have secured $150 million funding from the World Bank for the Mineral Sector Support for Economic Diversification (MSSED).
This will provide technical assistance for the restructuring and operationalization of the solid mineral development fund which will make finance available to artisanal and small mining operators through micro finance and leasing institutions.
Financial investments aside, we are also addressing the challenge of lack of geological data. The Nigerian Geological Survey Agency is undertaking the additional ground investigation nationwide to upgrade our national minerals data base so that we can more easily attract financial investments as well as assure operators of the scope of operations required for further exploration and mining. We have also signed Memoranda of Understanding and technical cooperation agreements with the China geological surveys Shandong Minerals Exploitations Agency and the National Office of Hydrocarbons and Mines of Morocco.
The collaborations are intended to leverage on the expertise and state of arts technologies of those organizations and assist Nigeria generate investor friendly geo-science data.
Further to support new entrants and more investors, the Federal Government is working to ensure implementation of a three-year tax holiday for new investors in the mining sector.
In terms of how the mineral sector is to fit into the broader economy, our recently launched Economic Recovery and Growth Plan’s target is 7% growth rate by the Nigerian economy by 2020, but sets a more aggressive growth rate of 8.54% for the mining sector.
Our long term goal is to grow the contribution of the mining sector to GDP by $27billion in 2025 which is roughly about 3% of our current GDP.
This is to be realized principally by creating an enabling environment targeting large scale investors to institutionalized world-class production standards in the country’s solid minerals sector.
The plan to create an enabling environment for business is a critical feature of our Economic Recovery and Growth Plan. This is our Ease Of Doing Business Reform Agenda aimed at ensuring that Nigeria is a better place to do business in order to unleash the immense potential of private capital and private enterprise. We are incredibly excited about what it portends for business and the economy in general including existing and intending businesses and players in the mining sector.
It kicked off in 2016 with the creation of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) by President Muhammadu Buhari. The Council which I am privileged to chair, has the mandate to oversee the implementation of reforms aimed at substantially improving Nigeria’s business environment, making it easier for investors and business persons, local and foreign, to do business in Nigeria.
Since the launch of PEBEC, we have successfully completed a 60-day national action plan that reformed and simplified bureaucratic procedures. We have also issued a number of executive orders that demonstrate the strength of our resolve. While it is still work in progress, let me briefly outline some of our Ease of Doing Business successes so far.
We have a functioning Visa-on-Arrival process which has just been instituted, the Immigration regulations have been up-dated and a 48-hour Visa processing time for business and tourism visas at Nigeria missions abroad has been rolled out and is currently being implemented. We have recently carried out an up-grade of facilities at the Lagos and Abuja Airports to improve efficiency and user-experience. We have reduced the number of documents needed for imports and exports and we have also cut cargo processing time at the seaports.
We are doing this in conjunction with the state governments who are critical partners in the creation of conducive business environment, especially in the area of land and property registration and taxes.
A cornerstone feature of our economic recovery and growth plan is our Made-In–Nigeria initiative which is to reduce imports and local entrepreneurship and manufacturing. The strategy is to take advantage of this especially in the mining sector. And this is in accordance with our plan to integrate artisanal miners into the formal sector, encourage and promote mineral processing and value addition industries that strengthen backward and forward linkages and then to follow this up by maximizing the local benefits of our minerals and ultimately developing a sophisticated mining eco system.
We believe that producing what we consume is useful for expanding the local economy with all its benefits, but it is also a more sustainable part to a robust export market.
Beyond the shores of Nigeria, we acknowledge the need to work with our African colleagues to ensure the success of the mining enterprise. It has been proved that regional integration is a powerful key for unlocking economic growth.
Looking at the growth in the East African bloc, it is my hope that the West African bloc can also utilize this opportunity to come together and build the right mix of cooperation and competition that will produce multiplied economic value for ourselves.
We need to collaborate on issues of cross-border security, trading, geological surveys and data interpretation and technology and a whole host of other areas to ensure the development of of the mining sector, not just in Nigeria, but in all of our countries in the region.
This will ultimately lead to the economic development of West Africa and the entire region and her people.
I would like to thank the organisers, Afroset Montgomery and Deloitte and the Ministry of Mines and Steel for coming up with this initiative to bring together the mining stakeholders from the region in this conference.
We appreciate all the hard work that has gone into making this conference a reality. The Honourable Minster of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi and his able Minister of State, Alhaji Abubakar Bawa Bwari and the rest of the team deserve our commendation for being an `A’ team in the ground-breaking achievements of the ministry in the last two years.
And our special thanks to the Australian government for the excellent support they have given our Ministry of Mines and Steel and the government of Nigeria and the entire mining sector over the years.
To all our esteemed guests that have come from all over Africa, welcome and thank you. Our continued collaboration will yield the phenomenal rewards buried in the soil of Africa.
It is time to speed up the work of unearthing our mining sector.
I wish you a successful conference.
Thank you and God bless you.