Nigeria’s ministry of mines and steel development through its agency, Nigeria Geological Survey Agency (NGSA), is collaborating with the British Geological Survey (BGS) towards the establishment of a Nigerian national geo-data archiving system.
Bawa Bwari, minister of state, ministry of mines and steel development, while welcoming the representatives of BGS, Matt Harrison, and Jenny Forster, to Nigeria, said Nigeria cannot talk about geological survey without reference to her colonial masters, the British.
He noted that data has been the key to developing the mining sector and that the country would like to take mining to where it used to be during the colonial era when mining really took place in Nigeria and in Africa. He cited the Enugu coal mines and the Jos tin mines as well as columbite mines as the part of the footprints of the colonial masters in mining.
Bwari said with the exit of the British, Nigeria could not continue with the foundation they laid in mining but pointed out that the country has learnt her mistakes.
“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 that role you played,” he added
“When you visit Kaduna, 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, 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 further explained.
Linus Adie, the project coordinator, Mineral Sector Support for Economic Diversification (MinDiver) in his address said Nigeria does not have geological archival system at the moment and that the implication of this is that people would have to travel 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 team is in the country to do a preliminary study of which Nigeria has no financial obligations but to take care of only the logistics.
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.”
Alex Ndubuisi Nwegbu, the director general of NGSA believed that the collaboration would facilitate the ease of doing business in the sector as a result of accessibility of information since information is key in decision making especially in mining.
“What we intend to do in collaborating with British Geological Survey is to articulate and bringing 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 make decisions,” he said.
The Director of Informatics, British Geological Survey (BGS), Matt Harrison in his remarks, said they are excited to collaborate with the ministry, adding that it is an opportunity to work together with NGSA and share their experiences with Nigeria.
He also informed the stakeholders that BGS is discussing with NGSA to see how they could open up to outside investors much in the same way they had with other countries.
Within the period of their visit, the representatives of the BGS are expected to work closely with NGSA and the National Steel Raw Materials Research Agency in Kaduna and carve a way for the establishment of the National Geo-data and Archiving System.
In his closing remarks, Abdulkadri Mu’azu, the permanent Secretary, said for the mining sector to develop, getting them to function in most efficient manner is a key issue.
“We discussed the wonderful job you are doing in Kenya and I believe your coming is a fulfilment of the discussion. The government is well committed to working with you and as you know we have learnt that the best thing is not to depend only on oil and so we are diversifying, the sector is one of the key sectors we can focus on to broadened our revenue base,” he added