‘No industrialisation without vibrant steel, petrochemical sector’
Worried by the slow pace of industrialisation and inadequate access to plants and machinery needed for production, stakeholders in the real sector have urged the Federal Government to address gaps in the steel and petrochemical sectors.
According to them, industrialisation is becoming increasingly difficult due to low level of machine fabrication and huge dependence on importation for raw materials and machines.
Noting that knowledge transfer was becoming increasingly difficult due to global competition, the stakeholders emphasised the need for government to address the needs in the steel and petrochemical sectors in order for them to cater to the needs of value-chain operators.
In a chat with the Guardian, the Divisional Head, Large Enterprises, Bank of Industry, Joseph Babatunde, explained that machine fabrication is almost impossible without vibrant steel and petrochemical industries, adding that the nation has a lot of work to do if it hopes to bridge industrialisation and gap and dependence on importation of finished goods.
Citing his experience, Managing Director of Proforce Ltd, an armoured vehicle manufacturing company at Ogun State, Adetokunbo Ogundeyin, said his firm had to seize technology rather than waiting for it to be transferred to his company by expatriates, adding that the steel sector needs to be developed for optimum service to value-chain operators.
With many players in the value-chain sector, the Managing Director, Clarion Events West Africa, Dele Alimi emphasised the need to address anomalies in local production, considering the scarce resources being spent on importation.
Alimi said: “It is normal for any country in the world to import goods and services. Importation itself is not a bad thing. The truth is no country can completely provide all its needs. Also, countries of the world rely on each other for survival. However, our case in Nigeria is only made worse by our over-reliance on importation. We are so hooked on importation and we import virtually anything and everything under the sun. That unfortunately is the bane of our economy.
“We need to take serious steps to correct this anomaly. The good thing about this is that we, as a nation, have come to terms with this reality. When a nation has this wanton appetite for foreign goods, we can only end up where we are now. Unfortunately, we do not have the money for such luxuries any more. We therefore need to produce and consume what we produce. We should have done these thirty years ago, but the next best time is now.
“The agenda requires commitment to follow through. It cannot in any way be short term or mid-term; there must be a long term agenda that requires the commitment of both the public and private sectors of the economy. We would need to ensure that this agenda transcend a particular regime or dispensation and it should become a national priority that should get the buy-in of everyone interested in the survival and development of Nigeria”, he added.