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Nigeria’s Solid Minerals Sector: A New Frontier for Economic Growth

How the government and stakeholders are working to unlock the potential of the sector

by Motoni Olodun

Nigeria is endowed with vast mineral resources, ranging from gold and iron ore to gemstones and lithium. However, the sector has been largely underdeveloped, contributing only a fraction of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). The government is determined to change this situation and unlock the potential of the solid minerals sector as a key driver of economic growth and diversification.

According to the Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr Oladele Alake, the government is committed to eliminating leakages and loopholes that impede the collection of revenues from the sector. He made this declaration during his familiarisation tour of the Mining Cadastre Office (MCO), an agency of the ministry that manages and administers mineral titles and licences.

Dr Alake explained that the government’s high expectation for revenue from the solid minerals sector is to facilitate the implementation of programmes that will lift the people out of poverty, generate employment opportunities and create wealth under the Renewed Hope Agenda of the present administration.

He said the ministry would take firm decisions in record time, review all fees paid by operators and businessmen, and employ all legitimate means of sealing leakages. He also stated that the ministry would invest heavily in data generation, concise and precise data generation that will empower and enable investors to make informed decisions.

The minister also visited the Nigeria Geophysical Survey Agency (NGSA) and the Council of Nigerian Mining Engineers and Geoscientists (COMEG), where he acknowledged their peculiar roles in the sector and assured them of the ministry’s constant support and collaboration.

The minister’s visit comes at a time when the solid minerals sector is attracting more attention and investment from both local and foreign stakeholders. According to the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), the sector generated N814.59 billion ($1.99 billion) from 2007 to 2021, with a significant increase in 2020 despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

The sector also received a boost from the African Finance Corporation (AFC), a leading infrastructure development finance institution, which pledged to support the government’s efforts to revamp the sector. The President/Chief Executive Officer of AFC, Mr Samaila Zubairu, said the corporation would partner with the ministry to develop the necessary data and infrastructure needed to advance the $700 billion value of the mineral resources under the ground.

The solid minerals sector is seen as a new frontier for economic growth and diversification in Nigeria, as the country seeks to reduce its dependence on oil and gas. With the government’s renewed commitment and the support of various stakeholders, the sector is poised to achieve its target of contributing 50% to the GDP and becoming the next oil.

Source: Tribune Online

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