By Lateef Ibrahim
The Federal Government has restated its determination to support and.protect all legitimate foreign investors in the country.
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo gave the FG position yesterday.
He said also that the new $600million steel plant in Kaduna State will help to lift 100million Nigerians out of poverty.
Adebayo gave the assurance while inspecting the steel plant, being built by African Industries Group(AIG) in Jere, Kagarko Local Government of Kaduna State.
He said: “From what I have seen so far, I must say that I am very impressed, I am happy that this is the sort of investment that we at the government like to see, I am happy with the number of people that will be employed.
“As you are all aware, the wish and desire of President Muhammadu Buhari is to lift 100million people out of poverty over the next 10 years and these are the kinds of things that will assist in that regard. When people get employment, they get paid salaries and they are able to help their dependants. This project will go a long way in that regard.
“We as a government are desirous and willing to assist all serious industrialists. All the people that are serious about investing in Nigeria, we are here for them.
“We will within the laws of Nigeria do everything possible to assist to make sure that they are able to bring everything on track.
“This will be my first time here but it will not be the last because I intend to come back as many times as possible until the project is finally completed and start to produce. “
Speaking also, the Group Managing Director, African Industries Group, Mr. Alok Gupta, said the $600million steel plant will provide jobs for 3,000 Nigerians.
He said the project will also bring in significant savings in foreign exchange by import substitution
According to him: “Most importantly we will be employing over 3000 people and benefit the lives of many more. Our 600 million US$ investment will be the largest non-oil FDI in the country and should encourage other mining industries to explore similar projects in the future.
“The Project will also bring in significant savings in foreign exchange by import substitution and also add to foreign exchange reserves when our mining project starts to export Direct Reduced Iron(DRI) to other West African countries. Already our Group manufacturing companies in Nigeria have been exporting steel and chemical products to various countries within the ECOWAS region.
“There will be significant economic and industrial development in the area by means of creation of several allied industries and social infrastructure. “
Gupta, who said AIG currently employs 8,000 workers, said the company has 18 manufacturing plants in the country.
He listed other benefits of the steel plant which he described as a “project with a higher gestation period.”
He added: “The surplus power we generate will further assist in developing other industries and residences and will help in urbanization of the local area. We expect our community and all our neighboring villages and towns to benefit immensely from our project.
“Such a project has a higher gestation period requiring full support from the Government. At this site of African Natural Resources and Mines Ltd, we will be mining Iron Ore to produce DRI which will be further used to make steel and help reduce imports into Nigeria.
“We expect to commission the Phase I of the project by end December 2020. We take immense pride in highlighting some of the key contributions from our current project towards the Industrial development.
“I hope this visit will shed some insights into the efforts and contribution made by our Group in Nigeria’s Industrial Sector and we seek your support and blessing.
“We, the African Industries Group are a diversified Manufacturing Group involved in the manufacturing of various products including Steel, Chemicals, Commodities & Power generation.
“We started our operations in Nigeria in 1971 and currently employ over 8,000 people in our 18 manufacturing plants in Nigeria. We have made significant Investments in the Nigerian Manufacturing Sector
“We have already received very warm reception from the traditional rulers, chiefs and members of host community and the Kaduna State and we are grateful for their full support.”