The metals sector in Nigeria today is yet to reach its full potential particularly in the development and consumption of key metallic products as Iron, Steel, Copper, Aluminium, Tin, Lead, Zinc and in exploitation of key noble metals such as gold and silver. With the nation’s capacity, potential and resource base, all these products can readily be developed and used to jumpstart industrialization and economic growth of the economy.
The consumption rate of Steel and other metals products is regarded as a major index of industrialization of a nation. By that yardstick, when compared with even some developing nations, Nigeria is lagging far behind in industrial development.
By the current estimate, the annual per capita consumption of Steel and Aluminium in Nigeria are about 10kg and 0.3kg respectively while the corresponding world average in respect of the two metals are 130kg and 5kg respectively.
In Apparent steel consumption (ASC), Nigeria is lagging behind when compared with even countries like Algeria with 42kg/capita, Egypt with 36 38kg/capita, and Zimbabwe with 25kg/capita. This is an indication that Nigeria with an estimated population of over 165 million has a large room and huge potential domestic market that can sustain rapid growth in the metals and related product sector.
The new metals policy is predicated upon the need to develop a vibrant metals sector where Government will play the role of administrator-regulator with the private sector as owner-operator. When properly implemented, this policy would enable Nigeria become a major regional and global producer of aluminum and steel products with a production target of 500,000 tonnes per year of primary aluminum and 12 million tonnes per year of steel products targeted by the year 2020.
Given the versatility of aluminum and steel as an industrial material, it has high potential link effects in Nigeria’s economy.
While the export orientation of Aluminum Smelter Company of Nigeria (ALSCON) is very relevant, it is recognized that the long-term viability would largely depend upon accelerated and orderly growth of domestic consumption of its products.
In fact from the point of view of value addition, the downstream industries that should be encouraged to export their products, after satisfying domestic market, so as to enhance the foreign exchange earning of the Country.
By Anaekwe Everistus Nnamdi
Investing in Nigeria Magazine