Ceramics experts who gathered at the launch of ceramics foundation in Lagos last week, organised by Oaikhinan Ceramics Foundation, were not happy that the country had not been paid attention to a critical sector of the economy as ceramics with huge potentials for growing national gross domestic product as well as boosting job creation.
Lamenting the neglect of ceramic industry, the experts asked the federal government to take advantage of the abundance of the natural resources in the country to boost the economy by sharing in the ceramic global markets put at whopping 47.72 billion US dollars.
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According to them, “Inspite of the huge potentials of the sector to the nation’s economy in terms of millions of jobs it can create for the country’s unemployed youths, production capacity of the sector has remained very low. Infact, Nigeria is counted after Egypt in Africa in terms of ceramic production, and Nigeria ranks eight position in the world.
While there is the abundance of its raw materials in the country ranging from quartz, feldspar to clay, Nigeria still has about 11 million shortfall for ceramics demand”.
The president of Oaikhinan Ceramics Foundation, Prof. Eguakhide Patrick Oaikhinan, who presented a paper entitled “Opportunities and Challenges in Ceramic Business in Nigeria”, said ceramic products which are used in buildings have the capacity to last as long as 150 years, pointing out that apart from using the products as tiles, ceramic products are used as sanitary wares, table wares, electric porcelain and insulator, auto-mobiles and several other uses.
Prof. Oaikhinan disclosed that “Currently, findings have revealed that the average production capacity for ceramics, is put at between 40,000 to 45,000 sqm per day for the eight ceramic manufacturing companies in Nigeria put together in terms of their production capacity, with the Chinese accounting for about 100 percent investment in six out of the eight ceramic tile companies in the country. Indian accounts for the remaining two tiles manufacturing companies in Nigeria”.
He said lack of awareness due to non-inclusion of ceramics education, technology and engineering in the country’s educational system is one of the challenges confronting ceramic industry.
Oaikhinan Ceramics Foundation boss added that low domestic participation in ceramic activities which has led to the sector’s dominance by the Chinese, lack of modern production technology and facilities, and absence of basic infrastructure such as motorable roads, water supply and regular power supply are major challenges confronting the sub-sector of the nation’s econmy.
Going down memory lane, he noted that prior to the 80s Nigeria’s domestic ceramic industries such as Richware Ceramics Lagos, Modern Ceramics Umuahia, Nigergrob Ceramics Abeokuta, Ceramic Manufacturer, Kano and Quality Ceramics, Shagamu, and others, were working optimally.
“But today, the industry is producing below-installed capacity because of lack of professionals with generic and technical skills in the ceramics manufacturing business. The absence of avenues for people that are interested in ceramic manufacturing businesses to pursue their ambitions has dipped growth in the sector”, Prof. Oaikhinan stated.