By Franklin Alli
The Minister of Commerce and Industry, Chief Achike Udenwa has forecasted that the country will become self sufficient in cement production by the year 2013.
The Minister made the disclosure when he received in audience the country Manager, Lafarge Cement Nigeria, Mr. Jean Christophe Barbant when he paid him a courtesy visit.
The Minister pointed out that government has granted many incentives to local producers of Cement such as appropriate pricing of LFPO, banning of importation of bagged Cement, lifting of ban on importation of Gyms and reduction of duty to 5 per cent to encourage local manufacturers stressing that the country should be able to achieve 100 per cent domestic production of cement that can satisfy local demand thereby making importation of cement to be a thing of the past.
â€œFederal Government has been very much concerned about the development of Cement Industry in the country and as a result it has granted very many incentives to local manufacturers, which includes LFPO, lifting of ban on importation of gysm and reduction of its import duty to five percent, all these are aimed towards encouraging investment in the cement sub sector,â€ he said
He noted that up till now, the economy is still the largest importer of cement in the whole world and that the Federal Government was doing everything possible to reverse the situation .
The Minister recalled that the estimated consumption of cement per annum was put at 19.5 million metric tones pointing out thatÂ Nigerian manufacturers can only produce 9.5 million tones while the remaining balance of 10 million tones has to be sourced from outside.
He said â€œMr. President is desirous that the situation be corrected.Â He has gone out of his way in providing the enabling environment, ensuring that the sector is well monitored.
Chief UdenwaÂ therefore urged the local manufacturers to reciprocate the federal government gesture by ensuring that the price of cement was brought down within reasonable period of time. â€œI have had meetings with the manufacturers several times on behalf of federal government; the manufacturers should also try their best to bring down the priceâ€.
The Minister acknowledged the high cost of transportation and power but still believed that there was still room for reduction of prices of cement to a more manageable level for the economy to bear. He therefore urged the producers to cooperate with government in that direction.
Earlier, the country Manager of Lafarge Cement, Nigeria , Mr. Jean Christopher Barbant had said that the company was confident in the Nigerian economy adding that the recent government directive on the ban on importation of bagged cement would definitely be a big boost to local manufacturers of cement in the country. Mr. Jean Barbant therefore invited the Honourable Minister to come and inspect the progress of work on the new plant in Ogun State.
Lafarge is one of the leading cement producers in the world. The companyâ€™s investments in cement industry in Nigeria are very encouraging with the group controlling the major shares in WAPCO and Ashaka cement. The Lafarge Group also owns 28% in United Cement Company (UNICEM) in Calabar. In its drive at expanding its base in Nigeria the Group has also embarked on Engineering Procurement and construction (EPC) of a new 2.2 million metric tones per annuam (MTPA) plant tagged â€œLAKATABUâ€ project adjacent to Ewekoro plant in Ogun State.