FG saves N300bn through local production of cement

By The Citizen

The Federal Government on Tuesday said it had saved about N300bn since it started encouraging production of cement in the country.

The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga, disclosed this to State House correspondents after a meeting convened to discuss how private sector players could take over the government's shares in the Onigbola Cement Factory, a joint venture between Nigeria and Benin Republic.

Apart from the sum saved, Aganga said the government had also succeeded in creating about two million jobs and increased the country's foreign reserves since it stopped issuing licences for the importation of cement in 2012.

'The importation of cement came down for example because no importation at all in 2012.  It saved us N300bn. Textile and vegetable oil imports have also fallen by at least 56 and 52 per cent, respectively,' he said.

Aganga faulted reports of alleged shortfall in cement supply, saying all the factories were capable of producing 26.28 million tonnes of cement if they are working in full capacity.

The production figure, he said, was higher than current demand for the product.

He said, 'In fact, for the first time ever, we are exporting cement outside Nigeria, so that is a major achievement. In fact, if we need to supplement that again, this company that I was talking about in Benin Republic, even though the capacity is only 500,000 metric tonnes, it is actually importing to the northern part of the country a limited amount.

'So, the supply is there and that is what that policy has achieved since 2002. In 2002 we were producing two million metric tones of cement; today it is 28.6 million metric tonne. For the first time in 2012, the Federal Government did not issue any import licence for cement in this country, I did not.

'In the course of that, we have saved the Federal Government at least N300bn in what would have been used, and that contributed to the significant fall in imports in 2012.

'In terms of trade numbers, Nigeria's import also fell by 43 per cent, indicating a dramatic fall compared to previous years since 2005.

'What it meant is that import came down from about N9.5tn or thereabout to about N5.3tn. What that means is that we have saved about N4.2tn that has gone to increase our external reserves. So, when you see reserve building up, that is one of the reasons.'