The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, has said the country is spending over $3.5bn yearly on the importation of steel products.
Fayemi, who stated this while addressing newsmen after a meeting with stakeholders in the mining sector in Lagos, announced that expression of interest by investors for the Ajaokuta Steel Complex would happen with the next six months.
He said, “Steel remains the backbone of industrialisation in any country. Any country that wants to make a headway in manufacturing and industrialisation must pay particular attention to steel development.
“In Nigeria, we utilise about seven million metric tonnes of steel on an annual basis; we produce less than three million from scrap metal, and even the scrap is being depleted now. So, we run the risk of depending almost solely on importation. We spend over $3.5bn importing steel products into Nigeria annually. So, you can see the opportunity cost and the importance of ensuring that Ajaokuta Steel comes on stream.”
He said the government was determined to ensure that the litigation around Ajaokuta Steel was resolved to enable those with the technical knowledge and financial capacity to intervene and bring it to life “in a manner that liquid steel can be produced from our own iron ore endowment and then made available to rolling mills across Nigeria for direct steel production.”
The Federal Government had on Wednesday said it would sell the Ajaokuta Steel Complex to a private sector operator with the capacity to turn around the fortunes of the beleaguered company.
On the privatisation of Ajaokuta, Fayemi said, “The timeline for the expression of interest is going to happen within the next six months. We have a number of players, both local and foreign, that have shown interest; they come to us independently and unsolicited to say, ‘Look, we want to do this.”