By Blaise Udunze
THE Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, has again assured genuine investors of cooperation and support towards self-sufficiency in local production of essential goods and the economic diversification drive.
Speaking during the facility tour of the new completed Sunti Golden Sugar factory in Sunti, Niger State, at the weekend, Emefiele noted that the bank has invested about N26 billion in the project of such magnitude in order to encourage import substitution and backward integration strategy.
According to the CBN boss, such investments are geared towards self-sufficiency, employment generation and creation of wealth. He, therefore, urged smallholder sugar cane farmers in the area to leverage on the presence of the factory to boost production, as the company would now buy all their produce.
Speaking earlier, the Chairman of the Flour Mill of Nigeria Group, owners of Sunti Golden Sugar Company, Mr. John Coumantaros, expressed appreciation for the uncommon support, which the apex bank has been giving to the company without which the project wouldn’t have been completed on schedule.
He noted that the N45 billion sugar-refining project is expected to create over 15,000 jobs including 3,500 direct jobs, 3,000 small scale out-grower farmers and save over $50 million in foreign exchange for the country annually.
Coumantaros explained that Nigeria presently produce 1.7 million metric tons of raw sugar which is just about two per cent of her needs.Whereas, countries like Benin Republic, Senegal and Mali currently produce 26 per cent, 48 per cent and 28 per cent of their local sugar needs.
As such, the planned one hundred thousand metric tons of raw sugar to be produced by Sunti Golden Sugar Company would augment the supply gap, create jobs and save foreign exchange for the country. This is in addition to the generation of 10 megawatts of electricity , animal feeds and fertilizer from the sugar cane residue.
In his remarks the event, the Niger State Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello commended the management of the CBN for providing the much needed fund for the projects and the Nigeria Flour Mills for working hard to fulfill its obligations to the host community by providing access roads, boreholes, electricity and health facility in addition to the engagement of over 800 construction workers mostly from the host communities. He urged the company to train the staff to be skilled for future expansion.