As part of efforts to move the Nigeria economy in line with global development indices, a group of non-state actors under the auspice of People Expertise and Excellence Foundation (PEEF) has highlighted ways to bring Ajaokuta Steel Company limited to functional capacity in the renewed drive to revive the Nigeria Steel sector.
The new efforts was highlighted at conference held in Abuja on Thursday the 23rd.
Tagged “Accelerating Steel Sector Development, Achieving Zero Corruption in Procurement Management, the event came on the heel of six others held on different indicators by the Foundation. In a communique issued at the end of the Conference, the participants, gathering under the 7th PEEF Annual Conference (PAC) 2023 took some important steps and resolution to join the voices for the realization of Ajaokuta Steel Company.
On the Steel Industry challenges, the communique stated that the steel industry in Nigeria is a crucial component of the country’s economy, providing essential employment and infrastructure development. However, the industry faces several challenges that have impeded its growth and development.
While noting the key challenges which are lack of clear policy direction and commitment to national goals and aspirations by the Nigerian government.
Inadequate training and development opportunities for staff.
According to the communique, poor integration of new technologies into current systems, skewed concessions leading to losses and arbitration penalty payouts due to privatization policy.
Poor and unstructured funding, as well as a complicated bureaucracy in government business and non-functioning of the plant even though completed and workable.
Further t participants while noting the lack of political will, cited that apart from the administration of former President Shehu Shagari, not a single administration after him has shown the needed political will to develop the ASCL.
The influence of international financial institutions.
Nigeria’s policy management systems stall development.
In terms of industrial opportunities, the communique revealed that Nigeria’s steel industry presents several opportunities for growth and development, which can be capitalized upon to boost the country’s economy and create employment opportunities. Some of the key opportunities include:
Natural resources: Nigeria has abundant natural resources, such as iron ore, which are essential for steel production.
Government support: Adding that the establishment of the Federal Ministry of Steel Development by the current administration demonstrates the growing political will to support the steel industry.
On the area of Investment, the communique highlighted that there has been significant investment in the steel sector, including the construction of a 500,000-tonne per annum DRI plant.
Infrastructure gap: Nigeria has a $300 billion infrastructure gap, which presents opportunities for domestic steel makers to contribute to the development of railways, roads, power sector, and mining sectors.
“The market potential for steel in Nigeria is high, with the country’s apparent steel use per capita expected to rise by 9.05%.
Integration with other industries: The steel industry is a strategic and capital-intensive sector that can support other industries, such as manufacturing and construction” the communique added.
Also in the communique, the conference participants have identified several risks associated with corrupt practices in steel production, including bidding, post-award project execution, maintenance, repairs, and inventory management. Efficient procurement processes are critical to the success of steel production, as they impact the cost.
Procurement Process: The framework for a procurement process is important in determining the level of corruption risk, and a transparent, accountable, and well-managed structure is necessary to mitigate these risks.
In recommendations the conference participants have outlined key recommendations for the resuscitation of the Ajaokuta Steel Company (ASCL) and the development of the steel industry in Nigeria which are
Long-term National Plan,
State of Emergency on Steel and