How BUA plans to cut Nigeria’s importation of sugar, steel
BUA Group is ready to bolster local production of sugar and steel to ensure that Africa’s most populous country reduces its dependence on imports.
Official data show that Nigeria imports steel valued at $3.3 billion every year. On the other hand, the country spent $459.4 million in 2017 on sugar imports and $516.16 million the previous year, according to the National Sugar Development Council (NSDC). The country imports mainly/ white sugar and refines it locally.
Abdul Samad Rabiu, chairman of BUA Group, plans to reduce the country’s dependence on sugar and steel through his integrated investments in these sectors.
“Sugar is something that we should be producing locally,” he told a select group of journalists in Lagos.
“Whatever it is that we can produce in Nigeria, let us do it, because that is the only way we can grow.”
Rabiu expects that he will be able to produce white sugar locally by 2020.
BUA acquired about 15,000 hectares for sugar plantations in Lafiagi. It acquired Lafiagi Sugar Company, which had been a joint venture between Mehta Group of India and the Federal Government of Nigeria, in 2008.
On steel, Rabiu believes Nigeria should not be importing steel worth over $3 billion at this point.
He said the country uses mainly scraps and billets in producing steel even when it should be able to utilise locally available ores to produce high-grade products.
BUA is likewise a big player in the cement industry. It recently commissioned a $350m plant with 1.5million metric tonnes per annum (mtpa) Kalambaina Cement Plant in Sokoto State. It also announced completion of its newest Obu plant in Edo State, which has a capacity to churn out three million mtpa of cement annually.
This brings the total capacity of BUA Obu cement operations to six million tonnes and moves the entire group’s installed capacity to eight million mtpa.
The ultramodern plant in Sokoto is blessed with huge limestone deposits and is proximate to Niger Republic, which enhances its export potential.
Rabiu said that 30 percent of what BUA produces in Sokoto is exported to Niger Republic, which brings in foreign exchange into the economy and creates jobs.
The cement plant in Sokoto has a 32 megawatts multi- fuel captive power plant and a coal mill and will be generating more power than is currently generated by the entire Sokoto State.
Rabiu had said during the commissioning of the Sokoto plant that it would run on coal, heavy oils or a mixture of both. The use of coal is expected to save over 70 percent of energy costs, compared with 15 million litres of fuel oil per month or 40 tonnes or even 20 trucks of fuel that could have been used per day.
He had also said that about 2,000 direct and 10,000 indirect jobs were required to get the plant running.
“Imagine having to import cement through the ports with all the challenges,” he said while addressing journalists last week in Lagos.
“You have to transport it to Sokoto or Jos. Due to the production of cement in Nigeria, the price of cement today in Sokoto is the same as that of Lagos because we have the raw materials locally,” he said.
He called on international funding institutions such as African Development Bank (AFDB) to support Nigerian entrepreneurs and industries to enable them fuel Africa’s industrialisation.
“They have a lot of money. They need to support us because Nigeria still imports things like steel, which it should be producing locally,” he said, adding that the major challenge is lack of funds to set up companies that would domesticate production of imported products.
BUA Obu Cement II