Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, yesterday, restated the Federal Government’s commitment to tackling the challenges frustrating private sector-led investment in the country to boost economic growth and job creation in line with its Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).
This was even as the Executive Chairman of BUA Group, Alhaji Abdulsamad Rabiu, said the Federal Government would be saving over $2 billion in foreign exchange annually when ongoing projects in the cement sector are completed by 2018.
Osinbajo, who spoke at the commissioning of the three million metric- tonne capacity BUA Cement Company in Okpella, Edo State, said the government through the Presidential Industrial Council (PIC) was working hard to provide a conducive business climate that would enable the private sector invest more in greenfield projects across the country.
The Vice President explained that government was already dealing with issues of foreign currency shortages, power supply constraints and other fiscal limitations facing private investors to unlock opportunities in the various sectors of the economy.
“Our economy must be private sector-led and government is working to provide the enabling environment to attract more investments into the economy. We are dealing with currency shortages and making fuel and power available. We are working with the industrial council to create more incentives to promote private sector investment,” he said.
He further recalled that the basis of his recent discussions with cement manufacturers who are also members of the National Industrial Council (NIC), that cement prices would crash as foreign currency prices stabilise, considering the sizeable foreign raw material input of the commodity, including Low Pour Fuel Oil(LPFO).
According to him, nation building is not judged by the number of new projects an administration or business entities initiate but by what they are able to complete and sustain to bring economic relief to the community.
Earlier, the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, commended BUA Group for the investment and the President Buhari administration for creating an enabling environment for investors to thrive. He charged the group to work hard to satisfy the yearnings of the people as demand for cement around its market segment is huge.
Obaseki gave the assurance that his government would continue to encourage investors like BUA Group for bigger greenfield projects in the state especially now that the Federal Government is encouraging divestment away from hydrocarbons.
“I wish to salute and congratulate the entrepreneurial spirit of BUA Group who are the core investors in this plant. BUA Cement will have to work very hard to satisfy the local demand for cement. It is my sincere hope that the Okpella community will see a lot of development with the presence of this factory here.”
“The goal of my administration is to diversify our economy to create a minimum of 200,000 jobs in the first term and we will diversify into housing development and BUA Group will have to work hard to satisfy the local market demand for cement.
In his welcome address, the Executive Chairman of BUA Group, Alhaji Abusamad Rabiu, said on completion of the over $2 billion projects across the country, the Federal Government would be saving over $2 billion annually in foreign exchange.
According to him, the journey to the country’s integrated cement manufacturing has seen Nigeria move from a nation of only 3 million metric tonnes of production capacity to one with over 45 million tonnes manufacturing capacity by next year. We are planning about a 24 per cent increase in capacity.
“This important feat has not only made Nigeria self-sufficient in cement production but a net exporter of cement. The cement sub-sector represents over 90 per cent of Nigeria’s mining sector and employs some 40,000 people directly and over two million indirectly. It also saves the Nigerian economy over $2 billion foreign exchange annually.
He explained that the success and efficiency of the first production line, which is in its first year of operation at over 90 per cent capacity utilisation made BUA to commence the construction of the second line of 3 million tonnes.
“We are completing another greenfield project in Sokoto, which is 1.5mtpa at a cost of over $300 million. By the time we are done, the combined capacity of our cement plant both in Sokoto and in Edo will be about 8 million tonnes.
“This investment, together with the Sokoto floating line, Edo Cement, we will be looking at a total investment of $2 billion by the time we are done next year.”