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Ajaokuta Steel company will start production in the next three years-Audu

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By Victoria Onehi

The Minister of Steel Development  Prince Shaiubu Abubakar Audu has said the Ajaokuta Steel company will begin production in the next three years.

The Minister disclosed this at an interactive session with journalists yesterday in Abuja.

He said : “About the three-year plan for Ajaokuta Steel and whether we should assume that it would start working, I think the short answer is yes.

“The three-year plan is to enable us to start production of some form of steel  in the next three years, so we should be able to get the light steel mill working, the engineering workshop working, we should be able to get some of the lines plants working and operating at near full capacity or full capacity.

“Part of what we would also do within that three years is to concession it to a concessionaire that has the required skill-set to be able to have liquid steel production coming out of blast points. Ideally, in a perfect scenario, that’s what we would like.

“And I suspect that the concession agreement to be worthwhile for the concessionaire would have to be a minimum of let’s say, 10 or 30 years agreement where they would be able to recoup their capital.” the Minister said.

Audu said the implementation of the road map will require an investment of $5bn  and will create 500, 000 jobs and a possible revenue of $10bn.

Also, the Minister said part of what this administration is doing is to encourage indigenous steel companies as well.

” What I will be doing in the near future is to visit indigenous companies.I don’t want the indigenous companies to feel left out. The Federal Government is here to support them to ensure that their company continues to boom. Some of them have been here for over 50 years and we need to encourage them. They are big employer of labour who have invested a lot of money in steel production.” The Minister said.

Audu said one of the important things governnmnt is doing is to create an enabling environment for steel production locally to reduce importation.

” Right now,90% of our steel demand is imported, while 10% is produced locally in the country. We spend over 4 billion dollars annually to import steel in Nigeria. I think were we want to get to is to get 90 percent local and 10 percent imported.”Audu said.

The Minister said part of what governnmnt is doing to achieve local production of steel is to pass the Metallurgical Industry Bill for the Steel and non metal industry as well as the National Steel Council Act

In the same vein,the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry,Dr Mary Ogbe said governnmnt is also working in the area of training more artisans who are ISO certified to work in indigenous steel companies.

” We have our Metallurgical Training Institute( MTI) in Onitsha were we can train artisans to enable them start something. Even when you go to China,those that run steel companies are not graduates per se. So,as we are planning to have steel industries, we also need certified artisans to work there. So,we plan to have ISO certification for MTI and get young people trained.” Ogbe said.

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