The Federal Government on Monday in Abuja announced that the backward integration policy for the cement industry adopted in 2002 by the Obasanjo administration would soon be coming to an end as a new cement policy would soon be unveiled.
This was announced by the Minister of Trade and Investment, Mr Olusegun Aganga during a meeting with stakeholders in the cement industry, where he also said that the government would review the backward integration policy with a view of consolidating on the success recorded so far.
The meeting was attended by the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Lafarge Cement Wapco Nigeria Plc, Mr Joseph Hudson; Chiarman, BUA Group, Alhaji Abdulsamad Rabiu; Group Managing Director, Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc, Chief Emmanuel Ukpabi; Chairman, Ibeto Group, Chief Cletus Ibeto; and Group Representative, Dangote Industries Ltd, Mr Isa Tata Yusuf.
There has been a lot of politicking in the cement industry in the past few weeks regarding the production, supply and pricing of the commodity.
Some local manufacturers have been complaining of alleged glut caused by the unrestricted importation of cement into the country. This has even led to the imminent shutdown of plants by two major producers, Dangote Cement and Lafarge Cement Wapco.
This development added a new dimension to the quiet but long-standing war between cement manufacturers and importers, and it reached a crisis point where the Federal Government had to intervene.
Aganga said at the Monday meeting that the government was planning to review the backward integration policy which has been in place for 10 years with a view towards consolidating on the gains so far recorded.
“We want to thank the stakeholders and investors in the sector for the success story recorded so far. Hopefully, before the end of the week, the committee will be set up. There is no industrial policy that has been as successful as the BIP in the cement industry. So we have a duty to make sure that we protect the sector and ensure its growth,” he said.
The minister said the government would soon come up with a team of people who shall examine the cement policy in details and come up with a policy response necessary in order to make Nigeria a major exporter and user of cement in terms of consumption.
Aganga said, “In 2002, the major priority of the country’s backward integration policy was about cement production from limestone. I am delighted to say that after about 10 years of implementing the BIP, we have grown from 2million metric tonnes production capacity to about 28 million metric tonnes of cement production capacity or about $6bn of investment. This has generated a lot of employment directly and indirectly, as well as save the country about N210bn yearly in foreign exchange.
“This means that in addition to developing an export strategy for the sector, we need to look at the overall structure, including the cement pricing, availability and affordability.”
The minister also assured the stakeholders of the cooperation of his ministry in ensuring sustainable growth and development.
“This is the key message that I want to pass across in terms of where we are today and what our plans are in terms of where we want to be, which is going forward. I want everyone to be carried along in terms of what we are looking at and incorporate your inputs into what we are planning so that at the end of the day, we have a win-win situation for all the manufacturers, consumers and the Nigerian economy at large,” he said.