By Adewale Sanyaolu
The recent figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) rating youth unemployment/underemployment at 49.9 per cent, unemployment at 13.3 per cent and underemployment call for concern, considering the state of neglect of the country’s solid minerals sector, which is said to be capable of providing over 500,000 direct and indirect jobs.
A study commissioned by the United Nations Industrial Development Council (UNIDO) led by a former Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Prof. Femi Bamiro, had proved that there are mineral resources in each of the 774 local councils in the country.
The Nigerian Extractive Industries and Transparency Initiative, (NEITI ) report suggests that there are about 40 different kinds of solid minerals and precious metals buried in Nigerian soil waiting to be exploited. The commercial value of Nigeria’s solid minerals is estimated to run into hundreds of trillions of dollars, with 70 per cent of these buried in the bowels of Northern Nigeria.
But despite these potential, the Nigerian solid minerals sector has performed below expectation, contributing 0.3 per cent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
Synopsis of NEITI 2013 audit report
According to the Minister of Solid Minerals, Mr. Kayode Fayemi, 619 entities made payments to the government in 2013 but the 2013 solid minerals audit reconciled payments by only 65 entities (63 companies and two buying centres) that made payments of N2 million and above. These 65 entities (10.5 per cent of 619) accounted for 90.49 per cent of the total payments for 2013 and six government agencies were covered by the audit.
Total production across the solid minerals sector increased to 46,280,996 tonnes in 2013 as against 37,808,063 tonnes in 2012. The 19 per cent increase was attributed to a 33 per cent rise in limestone production from 18 million tonnes in 2012 to 24 million tonnes in 2013. Also, solid minerals sector accounted for an average of 0.09 per cent of total export earnings for 2013 compared to 0.02 per cent for 2012, with lead ores accounting for over 50 per cent of the value of all solid minerals sector exports for 2013.
Low revenue flows to government
The NEITI report espoused further that a meagre N33.86 billion accrued to the Federation Account from solid minerals sector in 2013. Out of this, payments from cement manufacturing companies accounted for N30.47 billion (89.98 per cent); construction companies, N1.98 billion (5.83 per cent); mining and quarrying companies, N1.42 billion (4.19 per cent).
Stakeholders express concern
President of Miners’ Empowerment Association of Nigeria, Mr. Sunny Ekosin, disclosed that Nigeria loses a whopping N8 trillion annually in unexploited gold alone. He also said that Ajaokuta remains the key to Nigeria’s industrialisation and that getting it back to work is a matter of patriotism for President Muhammadu Buhari and his team.
Ekosin had in a recent interview said: “If Nigerians were taking data seriously, we would have built a database, where we have authentic information. In 2012, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Mines and Steel came before the nation and said that from our precious metals, specifically from gold exploitation alone, Nigeria is losing N8 trillion ($50 billion) annually.”
According to him, the failure of Nigeria, since independence in 1960, to put in place a structure that will make the benefits of the exploitation of solid minerals available to all Nigerians has been the bane of the nation.
Regrettably, he said at the moment mining of minerals in Nigeria accounts for only 0.3 per cent of its GDP due to the influence of oil resources.
The domestic mining industry, he said, is underdeveloped, leading to Nigeria having to import commodities it could produce domestically, such as salt or iron sheets and billets.
According to NEITI’s audit findings, solid mineral deposits are spread all over Nigeria, with more deposits in certain areas than others. Over 40 million tonnes of talc deposits have been identified in Niger, Osun, Kogi, Ogun and Kaduna states.
He explained that there are huge deposits of coal ranging from bituminous to lignite in the Anambra Basin of South-Eastern Nigeria.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Laurel School of Mines, Mr. Tope Adebanjo, said if Nigeria channels the required efforts towards gemstone development, the industry is capable of turning the fortunes of the economy around, maintaining that the multi-billion dollar industry has transformed many economies of the world.
‘‘It is sad that foreigners are dominating the gemstone business and there are many millions of youths in the country that are unemployed. The industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. We can make Lagos and Abuja another Las Vegas in Nigeria,” he said.
He, however, said factors affecting investment in gemstone development in Nigeria include lack of capital, market, technology, mineral resource and entrepreneurs, pointing the need to develop entrepreneurs in Nigeria to take advantage of the enterprising sector.
Bol takes the lead
To further encourage exploitation of the nation’s vast solid minerals as well as value-addition, the Bank of Industry (BoI) recently partnered with Laurel School of Mines (LSM) to implement its commodity-based industrialisation strategy in the gemstone sector.
Besides, the partnership will see the two institutions building capacity of 1,600 potential entrepreneurs in the sector before funds are made available for on-lending to successful businesses.
The Acting Managing Director, BoI, Mr. Waheed Olagunju, also said the partnership is in line with the bank’s commodity-based industrialisation strategy, which is adding value to the nation’s vast natural resource endowments.
Olagunju, during a Memorandum of Understanding ( MoU) signing ceremony with LSM, said: “We have lots of agricultural resources, solid minerals and oil, but solid minerals is the lowest hanging fruit. With gemstones, you do not have to wait like agriculture where you plant to harvest and process. We have gemstones where we can pick them up, add value and within few weeks, make thousands of dollars.”
According to him, the partnership is also coming on the heels of Nigeria’s quest to diversify its economic revenue base. He said the gemstones industry is capable of earning the much needed foreign exchange for the economy.
“The turnaround time is faster in precious stones unlike what we have in agriculture or the petroleum sector. We are going to create a lot of entrepreneurs in this sector. Under the MoU, Laurel School of Mines will be training 1,600 entrepreneurs in eight locations. That means 200 entrepreneurs per location across the country spanning the six geopolitical zones including Lagos and Abuja. Those who are trained and show signs of becoming a potential miner will be supported by BoI. There will be four batches of 50 each in these locations in order to ensure that the training is effective, which is expected to last for three days.
“We will give them concessional facilities to enable them to trade and export gem stones to earn foreign exchange which would go a long way to help Nigeria in diversifying the economy while also earning foreign exchange for the country,” he added.
The acting BoI boss added that the course curricular of the training programme will include picking the gem stones, adding value and trading for export.
“The training we are embarking on is about $277 per person for three days which is less than $100 a day. Selection will be done diligently together with the BoI. Basically, the whole idea is to engage the youth to take over what belongs to them. Nigerians are intellectually sound, ready and willing to work, but the problem is who will lead them to work,” he said.
He said Nigeria is currently tapping next to nothing in the global share index of the industry, maintaining that almost half of the total population of Thailand which is about 60 million engaged directly and indirectly in gem stone production.
DPR goes tough on unlicensed LPG retailers, set Jan 2017 deadline
It will no longer be business as usual for unlicensed Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) retailers, popularly called cooking gas as the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) has set January 2017 as deadline for all defaulting operators to get licensed.
Mr. Etukudo Etim of the Gas Department, DPR Lagos Zonal Office, made the disclosure at a safety training workshop organised by the Lagos chapter of the LPG Retailers Branch of National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) held in Lagos at the weekend.
Etim said effective January 2017, DPR will begin a clampdown on all non-registered gas retailers in Ogun and Lagos as part of measures to begin a holistic implementation of laws regulating the LPG business.
This is even as he disclosed plans by the DPR to begin data collection of sales of LPG by cooking gas retailers as part of efforts to develop a robust database for the domestic consumption of LPG in the country.
He said while countries such as Ghana, Togo and Angola have statistics on the their local consumption figure, Nigeria was yet to have statistics for its LPG consumption, saying such development makes planning by government difficult.
In this regard, he solicited the co-operation of LPG retailers to ensure that they fill the forms, which have been handed over to them by DPR through their association, on their sales statistics in order to help move the LPG sector to the next level.
The DPR boss said it had become imperative in the face of growing proliferation of LPG dealers, who, most times, are not trained and licensed to engage in the business of LPG, adding that the attendant result of the negligence of some operators has led to several fire outbreaks.
He explained that each operator is expected to get a license for a single outlet at the cost of N5,000 and is expected to be renewed after two years.
‘‘For example, if you operate five shops in different locations in Lagos, it is expected that you must have five licenses. A license for a shop in Ikorodu is not valid in Surulere, even if the shop operates under the same company name.
Beyond obtaining the license, each shop is expected to have in place, two fire extinguishers (liquid and powder of at least 5kg each in addition to bucket of sharp sand, well ventilated shop, display of appropriate warning signs and emergency numbers and distance from fire sources.
In his remarks, the Chairman, Lagos chapter of LPG retailers branch of NUPENG, Mr. David Okenwa, said the essence of the safety workshop was to acquaint members with basic fire fighting skills in case of unforeseen circumstances.
He equally urged retailers to take advantage of the period between now and January to get the DPR license, warning that any member found to be operating illegally would have to face the wrath of the law having had a grace period of one month to comply with government directives.
Shell, Yemi Alade take innovative energy ideas to Kenya
Nigeria music icon, Yemi Alade, has taken the lead in spreading Shell’s #makethefuture campaign, which aims to inspire youths and entrepreneurs for bright energy ideas that can help in the global quest for more and cleaner energy.
The multiple award nominee and winner of the 2015 MTV African Music Award Best Female Artist joined Shell-organised 50 Night tour of Kenya last week to celebrate the benefits and installation of GravityLight in some Kenya communities after she united with Oscar-winner, Jennifer Hudson, and four other music stars in Rio, Brazil on Best Day of My Life music video for #makethefuture.
GravityLight, one of seven energy ideas celebrated in Rio, Brazil in October by Shell, offers a clean, safe, affordable and reliable alternative to other fuel sources including kerosene lamps, which are used in homes by millions of families in Africa, including Nigeria. The low-carbon innovation does not need batteries or sunlight and costs nothing to run. It works by connecting an elevated bag filled with 12kg of rocks or sand to a pulley system. Each time the weight descends to the ground it powers a generator to create 20 minutes of light.
“The event in Kenya brings closer home how innovations and collaborations can help bridge the energy divide in the face of a rapidly growing global population,” said the Managing Director, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and Country Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria, Mr. Osagie Okunbor.
He added: “By continuing the conversation on providing a wider, more sustainable mix of energy resources for the world’s growing population, Shell is provoking thoughts on tomorrow’s solution, and supporting young entrepreneurs through our 13-year-old LiveWIRE programme.”
Speaking on the relevance of her music to Shell’s bright energy ideas campaign, Yemi Alade said her music offers a good platform to draw attention to the energy needs of the world with strong appeal to engaged millennials who form the bulk of her fans.
“Music offers a good platform and this is particularly true in Nigeria where we are working hard to provide the energy the nation badly needs to develop. In my music, I try to encourage people to look at the innovative side of life and this is what the ‘makethefuture seeks to achieve in the energy space. I’m pleased to be part of the energy train,” she said.
“GravityLight is really close to my heart as it’s an invention that solves a problem I know only too well. For many years as a girl, I had to use candles and kerosene lamps for hours while studying at night. Now with GravityLight, people have a safer way to study and families can have quality time in evenings. Being part of #makethefuture has been amazing – I’ve seen how it changed lives in Rio, and it’s moving to see it do that again in my home continent,” she added.
Other bright energy innovations being supported by Shell are:
• bio-bean – which explores how to reduce the UK’s CO2 emissions from transport by turning coffee dregs into a sustainable transport fuel,
• Capture Mobility – demonstrates how roadside turbulence from cars and trucks can generate clean power for local communities,
• MotionECO – uses waste cooking oil to help to create a market for renewable diesel in China (in transport, public services and logistics) and discourage the harmful reuse of cooking oil,
• Pavegen – converts power from footsteps into renewable energy that can power a community, and
• Shell Eco-marathon – a global competition that sees students design ultra-efficient cars, and challenges them to see which can travel furthest on one litre of fuel.