From Uche Usim, Abuja
Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, has said that government was looking at a five-year development plan for local firms, especially those in the oil and gas sector, to make them strong enough to attract foreign partnerships or compete globally.
Speaking yesterday in Abuja at the opening of a two-day conference on Sustainability in the Extractive Industries (SITEI), he said the domestic industries could to contribute immensely to economic growth and nation’s development.
He said a cursory look at the Nigerian economy indicated shortfall in the required capacity of local companies, adding that much progress needed to be made towards building local capacity and uplifting the conditions of the people to enjoy the benefits of the oil wealth, critical to long term sustainable development.
He said: “We need to do so much to trap money into our local economy and reduce capital flight. Globalizing our local economy thus goes beyond value retention and trade – offs. Rather, strong government demand for local content investment through creation of infrastructural facilities and insisting work be done in Nigeria should be of paramount importance.
“Nigeria’s perception as a high – risk investment destination in some quarters is partly because the process of structuring a project financing deal with financing institutions is usually complicated and daunting; hence policies must be consistently directed at improving confidence in the investment environment.
“Nigeria as an emerging economy needs an effective local capital market that is properly regulated and supervised to bridge the huge infrastructure gap that exists in the oil and gas infrastructure sector.”
Convener of the programme, Bekeme Masade, said the conference was aligned with national plans of building local capacity within the extractive industry sector worth $8 billion a year.
“Local/illegal refineries in Nigeria represent a mammoth industry which can create more jobs and lift millions of Nigerians out of poverty (Chatham House, 2013).
“Statistics in 2013 show that although the country makes an estimated $448,000 on crude oil daily, the average person in the Niger-Delta area lives on less than $2 a day,” he said.
“Although when the Federal Government released its Economic Recovery & Growth Plan (2017-2020), it recognised solid minerals as the big project required to leapfrog the economy to enviable height, in Nigeria today, the mining sector is marginally regulated and operated mostly by unskilled miners; with concerted efforts by the current administration to address those gaps.