From Uche Usim, Abuja
In a strategic move to tackle Nigeria’s unemployment nightmare, the Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM) has njected some funds into Dutse Granite Company Limited, Nigeria’s indigenous operator in the solid minerals sector, to restart operations.
The Company, which is based in Sharade Industrial Area, Kano, produces granite tiles and slabs for import substitution and export.
Speaking during a working visit to the factory, the Managing Director/Chief Executive of NEXIM Bank, Abba Bello disclosed that NEXIM’s objective was to ensure that projects like this were brought to cash flow, and in the process facilitate creation of jobs and foreign exchange earnings for the country. The company, which was incorporated in 2011 was first financed by NEXIM in 2015, but somehow encountered some problems. This led NEXIM to disburse more money in 2018 and 2019 to enable the company acquire some state-of-the-art processing machinery and equipment.
Bello revealed that part of challenges of the solid minerals sector was poor access to finance, given the capital-intensive nature of mining projects and the need for long-term funds.
He noted, however, that since he took over the helms of affairs in NEXIM, he has developed targeted products to unlock opportunities in the sector, including the Contract Financing Scheme and the Equipment Leasing framework, adding that over the next few years, the solid minerals sector will increasingly realise the benefits of NEXIM’s intervention.
The Chief Promoter of the company, Mr. Mustapha Khabeeb, disclosed that but for the intervention of NEXIM, the project, with machinery currently worth over N1 billion would have been stalled. He noted that the company has about the best machinery for granite processing in the country today and that the products were comparable in quality with those imported from Europe.
Khabeeb indicated that his company currently has 37 staff in direct employment, but this does not include many others in the value chain from the quarry to the distribution network, and other by-products, which run into hundreds. The company supplies the major construction companies in the county and has export orders from Saudi Arabia, Chad and Ghana.
He however disclosed that logistics challenges were a major impediment to maximising the export potential of the company.
Nigeria has a huge solid minerals endowment with over 34 solid minerals available in commercial quantities.
However, in spite of this, the sector accounts for less that 1% of GDP and contributes less than 5% of non-oil exports revenue.