By Benjamin Umuteme
The Federal Government will review the Backward Integration Policy in the cement sector with a view to consolidating on the tremendous success so far recorded, the Minister of Trade and Investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga, has said.
He said during a meeting with stakeholders in the cement industry on Monday in Abuja, that a new cement policy would be unveiled soon.
The meeting which dragged late into Monday night had in attendance: Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Lafarge Cement WAPCO Nigeria Plc, Mr. Joseph Hudson; Chairman, BUA Group, Mr. Abdulsamad Rabiu; Group Managing Director, Flour Mills Plc, Mr. Emmanuel Ukpabi ; Chairman Ibeto Group, Mr. Cletus Ibeto and Group Representative, Dangote Industries Limited, Mr. Isa Tata Yusuf.
The minister said, “Following the tremendous success recorded through the introduction and rigorous implementation of the Backward Integration Policy in the cement industry, we are planning to review the entire policy to consolidate on the gains so far recorded.
We have achieved everything we set for ourselves 10 years ago when the Backward Integration Policy was introduced and we want to thank all stakeholders and investors in the sector for the success story recorded so far.
"However, we want to take the next step as part of our strategy on the way forward. We are forming a group of people that will look at the cement policy in details and come up with the policy response that we need to have in place to take that next step that will make us a major exporter and user of cement in terms of consumption.
"He added, “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 10 years of implementation of BIP, the good news is that we started with 2 million tons capacity but today we have about 28 million tons capacity of cement, investment of about $6billion; which provides direct and indirect employment for about 2 million people.
And because of what we have done together, we have been able to save the country foreign exchange of about N210billion per year.
"However, we want to take the next step as part of our strategy on the way forward. We are forming a group of people that will look at the cement policy in details and come up with the policy response that we need to have in place to take that next step that will make us a major exporter and user of cement in terms of consumption"
“For the first time ever, this ministry did not issue any import licence in 2012. This is a remarkable achievement and a major economic success for our country.
However, we want to carry out a deeper review of the cement sector to ensure that it is more competitive not just locally but internationally because we are at a point where we should be thinking about exporting some of our products.
"This means that we need to look at the overall structure including the current pricing, availability, affordability, in addition to developing an export strategy for the sector."
Aganga said that the ministry would work with all the stakeholders in the sector to ensure its sustainable growth and development.
He said, “At the end of the day, this is one of the sectors that Nigeria should, and will be rightly known for as one of the greatest contributors to the Gross Domestic Product of the country. 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 going forward. I want to carry everyone along in terms of what we are looking at and incorporate your inputs into what we are planning to do so that at the end of the day, it will be a win-win situation for all the manufacturers, consumers and the Nigerian economy at large.
“Hopefully, before the end of this 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 continue to see it grow.”
Speaking during the meeting, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Lafarge Cement WAPCO Nigeria Plc, Mr. Joseph Hudson, commended the Federal Government for keeping faith with the implementation of the BIP in the cement industry and pledged that cement manufacturers would partner the government to grow the sector.
He said’ “We want to thank the Nigerian government for its consistency in keeping faith with the implementation of the Backward Integration Policy in the cement industry. Nigeria is a shining example globally in terms of success story in cement production. We see a long term future in Nigeria and we are ready to work with the government and all the stakeholders to grow the sector.
”Also speaking, Group Representative, Dangote Industries Limited, Mr. Isa Tata Yusuf, said, “We are happy with the way the government has implemented the BIP in the cement sector since inception 10 years ago. We strongly believe in the industry and will work together to surpass the current growth.