Abuja — In its bid aimed at not only facilitating the dissemination of Nigerian geo-scientific data but also for information, the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Fugro Nigeria Limited/Fugro Airborne Surveys (pty) Ltd.
The processes which culminated in the event, started about eight years ago when the ministry embarked on various ambitious programmes to reposition the solid minerals sector and make Nigeria a major mining destination.
The agreement which was signed between the ministry's representative, Nigerian Geological Survey Agency and Nigeria's leading Environmental and Geotechnical laboratory firm, will make solid minerals data universally and widely accessible in an affordable manner.
Speaking at the occasion in Abuja, Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr. Mohammed Sada, said unless products derived from activities in the solid minerals sectors were easily available and accessible to the public, all efforts of the ministry in repositioning the sector would not achieve their desired results.
Some of the programmes the ministry embarked towards innovation in the sector, according to the minister, included massive generation of geo-scientific data through airborne geo-physical surveys which he further hinted, resulted in the 100 per cent airborne geophysical coverage of the entire country, enactment of the new Minerals and Mining Act and Regulations as well as the establishment of a transparent Mining Title Administration.
"Governance and institutional reforms have also been put in place to address lapses that had hindered the progress of the sector for long. These include the change of the role of government from operator to regulator/administrator," he said.
He noted that geo-science data was a public good and needed to be widely disseminated to maximise its impact, stating that the value of geo-science data was not in its inherent commercial value, but in contribution to stimulating inward investment to a country.
"For this to happen in a vibrant and dynamic way and to generate a conducive climate for sustainable growth and development of the mining sector, and for data to realise its full potential, data has to be made universally and widely accessible in an affordable manner. The proactive approach being adopted by the ministry envisions a platform by which the public can enjoy unhindered access to these date through a user-friendly interface. The aim of this project is to attract serious players in the industry," he said
The minister explained that the ultimate objective of his administration was to fulfil the mandate of the ministry which was to facilitate the exploitation of the nation's mineral endowments in an environmentally sustainable manner and establish a vibrant minerals and metals industry for wealth creation, poverty reduction, promotion of economic growth as well as contribution to the Nigerian Gross Domestic Product.
"The current economic liberalisation and continued mining sector reforms have renewed international interest in Africa. Countries like Ghana, South Africa, Zambia and Namibia, have benefitted from the huge Foreign Direct Investment to their respective countries. Nigeria cannot longer afford to be a passive player in this ever evolving and changing climate," he said.
For Nigeria to maintain her investment competiveness in the global arena, according the minister, "the need to improve her attractiveness by maintaining an investor-friendly environment had become imperative.
"I am very optimistic that we are at the threshold of a major breakthrough in the mining activities as a result of the new gateway. This is in addition to the fact that the sector has for the first time started contributing its quota to the federation account of the country," he reiterated.
He said the arrangement would not foreclose other efforts the ministry was making to market the country's solid minerals potentials, hinting that the establishment of Investment Promotion Unit in the ministry was geared towards the project.