- Local demand put at 500,000 tonnes per annum
Nigeria has opened its doors to private investors who are looking for opportunity in the local production of bitumen in the country.
A policy designed for this has been approved by the country’s executive council, Babatunde Fashola, the minister of works and housing said, describing it as being in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s policy of promoting ‘made-in-Nigeria’ goods.
Local yearly demand for bitumen is put at 500,000 metric tonnes and the country is looking to stop the importation of the product for road construction and help it conserve foreign exchange, which has become scarce as revenues from crude oil, its major source of foreign exchange, dwindles.
“The Ministry of Works and Housing presented a memorandum on the initiative of the president to our source of bitumen, which is used in road construction and its cost. He explained that the policy memorandum revealed that the bitumen we used in road construction in Nigeria was imported in significant amount therefore creating jobs abroad hence it recommended to the council to approve a directive to the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and the Ministry of Mines and Steel to develop strategies to enhance, stimulate, and encourage local production of bitumen,” Fashola said.
According to Fashola the new policy option will help to further diversify the economy and open another sub-sector of the extractive and hydrocarbon industry for local opportunities, noting that there are opportunities inherent.
“We see the opportunity for thousands of jobs to be created directly if this is done, and government intends to give support to all those who take up this opportunity,” the minister assured, and encouraged those who can manufacture and produce bitumen locally to tap into this demand.
“We expect Kaduna Refinery to also raise its game by participating in this sub-sector of hydro-carbon industry.
“We expect that it will improve the quality of bitumen that is produced and goes into our road construction; just as we are able to control the quality of cement that goes into local production,” he said.
He added that the federal government was also promoting the use of more cement, stones, and rocks in road construction which is part of a framework of policy documentation which was presented to the council in which his ministry is now developing a design manual for rock and stone in road construction in the country. “So we expect the Nigerian entrepreneurial community to now respond to all the existing government policies for setting up businesses and embracing this policy as part of ways to develop our made-in-Nigeria capacity,” said Fashola.