Nigeria’s failure to consolidate on the foundational efforts of the British colonial regime in its mining sectors has been hinged on a dearth of the geological information system, a knowledge gap which deprives operators of well collated and analysed massive volumes of data on the landscape of operations.
This, Abubakar Bwari, the minister of state for mines and steel development, said, necessitated the collaboration between the British Geological Survey (BGS) and its agency, Nigeria Geological Survey Agency (NGSA), towards the establishment of a Nigerian National Geodata Archiving system.
Receiving the representatives of BGS, Matt Harrison and Jenny Forster, at a meeting, the minister reiterated that data was key to developing the mining sector to the standard it attained during the colonial era, citing the coal mine in Enugu and the Jos tin mines and columbite mines, as footprints of the British mining activities in the country.
“We are retracing our steps and that is why we need to go back to the foundation and so it is not by accident that we are coming back to you. We know the role you played and we believe we benefited from it. When you visit Kaduna, I am sure it will bring back memories because most of the things that are there still have strong ties or relationship with what the British did here in the past. So we know where we are coming from; we know exactly where we are going; we know what we need to move forward and we cannot do that without collaboration and assistance of BGS.
We believe with your assistance and guidance, the data in your possession will help us in facilitating what we want, data we believe is key and without data, we will not be able to move forward in the sector,” the minister of state explained.
Linus Adie, the project co-ordinator, Mineral Sector Support for Economic Diversification (MinDiver) in his address said the implication of lacking geological archival system was that stakeholders would have to travel the long distance to get the information they need.
The establishment of Nigerian National Geo-data Archiving System, according to him, means that the ministry would bring all the geo-data in the industry into one format that is retrievable for investors. Adie explained that the BGS were in the country for a preliminary study which Nigeria has no financial obligations except logistics handling.
The Nigerian National Geo-data archiving system, he said, would be domiciled in NGSA, “the system will be based in NGSA, it will be operated by NGSA, it will train the NGSA staff on how to operate, it will expose them to the practices in other countries, it will be all-inclusive, and we should be able to have a new NGSA at the end of this project,” Adie stressed.
Alex Nwegbu, the director general of NGSA, believes the collaboration would further facilitate the ease of doing business in the sector as a result of information accessibility. “What we intend to do in collaborating with British Geological Survey is to articulate and bring together, most of the information that are in different areas and in different format so that the people who are interested in the mining sector can easily have access to vital information that would enable them to make decisions,” he said.
Matt Harrison, the director of informatics, British Geological Survey (BGS), said the collaboration was an opportunity to work with NGSA and share innovative ideas, noting the BGS had discussed with the NGSA on how it could open up opportunities in the industry to investors like has been done in other countries.
The BGS visit will also close relationship with NGSA and the National Steel Raw Materials Research Agency in Kaduna on the establishment of the National Geo-data and Archiving System. For Abdulkadri Mu’azu, permanent secretary of the ministry of mines and steel development, getting the sector to function in the most efficient manner is the key issue.
“We discussed the wonderful job you are doing in Kenya and I believe your coming is a fulfillment of some of these discussions and the government is well committed to working with you. We have learnt about diversifying and the sector is one of the key sectors we can focus on to broadened our revenue base,” he said