In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant drop in oil prices, it is evident that Nigeria needs to implement the diversification of the Nigerian economy which has been campaigned for by various stakeholders. Therefore, the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) held a webinar with the theme “Post COVID-19: Impact and opportunities on the mining industry” on Thursday 18th of June, 2020.
The Minister for Mines and Steel Development, Architect Olamilekan Adegbite while delivering the keynote address said that the immediate focus of the government is to manage health and safety followed by the economy. “Post COVID-19, Nigeria continues to make an effort to diversify the economy as mining offers a robust alternative. Nigeria has 44 minerals in over 500 locations which can help to provide revenue and bolster the economy” the minister stated. He reiterated that the reforms that are currently being carried out in the mining sector aims to transform the mining industry into a vibrant one that is investor-friendly and one where government serves as the regulator.
Furthermore, Architect Adegbite revealed that the ongoing transformation of the rail sector will have a huge impact on Nigeria’s mining industry. He revealed that with the extension of the Warri-Itakpe railway line to Abuja and the completion of the Ajaokuta Steel company, more jobs will be created and there will be economic development which will affect the upstream and downstream sector of Nigeria’s mining industry. He also said the resuscitation of the Ajaokuta steel company will help resuscitate the Delta and Osogbo steel companies through private sector participation. The Honourable Minister also mentioned that the mineral economic corridor will help address the infrastructural gap in the mining industry, saying that 31 states of the federation are currently connected to Nigeria’s internal waterways and that efforts are on to engage the waterways in the transportation of mining products. He said that by 2025, the mining industry should be able to contribute to 5 percent of Nigeria’s Gross domestic product (GDP).
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Mr. Edet Akpan said that the ministry has undertaken progressive steps to tackle weak infrastructure, illegal mining, insufficient funding and poor perception. He made it known that the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic has adversely affected the mining industry but that it also presents great opportunities going forward. Furthermore, the permanent secretary revealed that sections of the Ajaokuta steel company had been renovated and that the ministry is open to innovation and development that meets the needs of the Nigerian economy going forward.
The President of Miners Association of Nigeria, Alhaji Kabiru Kankara said the mining sector requires government support to thrive and that such support can come through equipment leasing, capacity building and financial incentives. The co-chair of the Mining policy commission and the President of the manufacturers association of Nigeria (MAN) Engineer Mansur Ahmed who was represented by Mr. Tochukwu appreciated the efforts of the ministry in revitalizing the mining industry and stated that a proper framework will ensure the growth of the industry.
Furthermore, the Chief Executive Officer of the NESG, Mr. ‘Laoye Jaiyeola stated that the NESG continues to advocate for the diversification of the Nigerian economy from oil to other sectors that presents potentials for growth. He said the NESG recognizes the huge potentials in the mining and manufacturing sectors and that the sectors can help to create jobs and reduce government reliance on the oil sector.
The Director-general of the Nigeria Geological Survey agency, Dr. Abdulrasak Garba said that the agency is perhaps the oldest in Nigeria as it will be a hundred and one years old this year. He revealed that the agency is on the verge of improving on its data center and website to improve data management and communication and to make information regarding Nigeria’s mining sector accessible to everyone.
While delivering a presentation on the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Mining Industry, the technical assistant to the Honourable minister for Mines and Steel development, Ms. Amina Waziri revealed that the big players in the mining industry used the opportunity of the pandemic to stockpile mineral resources and that the shipping and logistics aspect of mining has been most affected due to lower demands.
Executive director Transaction advisory services Ernst & Young, Dr, Godknows Ajowa said that if Africa gets enough power to carry out smelting and processing of its mineral resources, jobs will be created for the local economy and more revenue will be generated for the government. In his remark, Dr. Tochukwu Nwachukwu of Preston consults said that public debts are rising and that debt servicing takes up about 60 percent of Nigeria’s National budget. He stated that mining is an integral part of the Nigerian economy and that intervention funds should be made available for the sector.
The President of the Abuja Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), Prince Adetokunbo Kayode (SAN) said that the organized private sector needs to work in collaboration with government during the implementation of policies so as to tune policies with the realities on ground. He reiterated the need to define a mining strategy, develop mining equipment as a sector, determine and designate funding for the sector and ensure that the funding goes directly into the industry.
While moderating the session, the Head of the Mining Thematic Group of the Mining and Manufacturing Policy Commission of the NESG, Ms. Amanda Lumun Feese, said that the mining industry presents a lot of potentials and opportunities for investors and government alike to create new jobs and generate revenue.
Finally, while delivering the closing remarks, the Honourable minister of state, federal ministry of mining and steel development Dr, Uche Ogah stated that the COVID-19 pandemic has re-emphasized the need for the diversification of the Nigerian economy through agriculture and mining. He stated that the ministry is enhancing productivity through capacity building and low interest funding for artisans and small-scale miners.
The NESG’s Manufacturing & Mining Policy Commission (MMPC) has the mandate to act as a private-public policy dialogue for the mining and manufacturing sector with a view to fast-tracking manufacturing and mining growth of the economy. The objectives of the MMPC includes providing a platform for public-private sector dialogue on Manufacturing & Mining issues; analyzing and determining priority issues for private sector development in manufacturing & mining to be reviewed through various discussion series to establish consensus on policy options, implementation strategy/framework, and evaluation mechanism and supporting the agreed priorities, policies, implementation, and evaluation framework.