The multibillion naira Ajaokuta Steel Mills in Ajaokuta, Kogi State has secured about $1. 460 billion for the completion of the project through the federal government. The development signifies what could become an effective end to the over 40 year-delay in the completion of the multi-billion dollar project. The Minister of Mining and Steel Development, Arc. Olamilekan Adegbite disclosed this in Abuja. Arc. Adegbite said that the Russian Export Centre and the African Export-Import Bank had agreed to provide the funds. According to him, the Russians who built the mills (under the Soviet Union) were not only offering money but would also be the ones to complete it under an agreement that would serve as a game-changer for the company and the nation’s steel industry. His words, “The beauty of it is that we got funding- the Russian Export Centre which is akin to what is called EXIM Bank in other countries pledged a sum of $460million towards this project, while Afrixim Bank which is the bank that we are also shareholders, also pledged a billion dollars.”
The Minister said that once operational, the Ajaokuta Steel Complex would turn Nigeria into an industrial nation. According to him, “Ajaokuta is just waiting to catapult us into the industrial era. Nigeria is not industrialised because virtually in the production of simple implements, complicated tools, vehicles, aircraft parts you need steel. “We have not been able to manufacture those things because we do not have steel. “We need to produce liquid steel which can now be manipulated into many other things. Once you produce liquid steel, you can do anything you want with it, you can alloy it- that adds some metals because you want to have some benefits from that alloy. “You can change it to flat sheets, which of course goes to form other shapes, you can start making body parts for cars. That is why everybody is excited about it”
Arc. Adegbite disclosed that work had been going on between Nigerian experts and their Russian counterparts to with a view to coming up with a mutually beneficial agreement between the two parties. He said, “A lot of works have been going on. It is not something we can go to the public about. We have set up some local bodies in the ministry with experts from Ajaokuta itself, the ministry, and some people outside who have knowledge about Ajaokuta, including former staff. “They have been working. We have been exchanging correspondences, technical details, local contents, and all that. “There is a meeting that is coming up in Cairo, and the Russians and the Nigerian team will meet there. This meeting is to crystallise everything and then we go into the MoU. Once this is done, we will move faster.” The minister also spoke on the present administration’s efforts to re-focus on the downstream sub-sector of the industry, in order to avoid the mistakes of the oil industry.
According to him, there was no downstream policy in the industry until the present administration came on board, but that his team was crafting one, which would soon be presented to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for approval. He said that the nation was losing huge resources by exporting minerals in their raw form and they’re so doing exporting jobs to other countries. His words, “Look at the export of crude oil and look at the cost of bringing back refined petrol, diesel, kerosene and all that. If we could just add the value locally we could now export refined products and that would make a lot of money for us and save us foreign exchange as well. So the same thing we don’t want to go down the same road in mineral export.”
SOURCE : KOGI FLAME