Nigeria loses about N1 trillion annually to the importation of raw materials for the use of manufacturing and construction companies in the country, Director General of the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC), Professor Peter Azikwe Onwualu, has revealed.
Onwualu, who, according to an online publication Commerce Today, was the guest speaker at the stakeholder's forum to announce the Nigerian Raw Materials Exposition slated for November, said that huge amount drains Nigeria's economy every year and grows the economies of other countries.
He said there is need to reduce importation by 50 to 60 per cent in the next five years to grow the economy.
Onwualu said the industrial sector of the economy is passing through a very difficult phase, which is why many manufacturing companies are closing shop and relocating their businesses to more stable business environments in the west coast.
There is high factory closure due to high cost of imports and inability of the manufacturing sector to source their raw materials locally, he said.
He noted that the 2012 Expo is important because it would enable the stakeholders to discuss ways of substantially reducing the volume of imported raw materials as some industries import as much as 90 per cent of their raw materials.
The director general urged the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) to collaborate with the federal government to stop the importation of raw materials that are available in the country.
He said: "On the average, our industries import up to 80 to 90 per cent of their raw materials, on the other hand, there is no raw material that cannot be produced in this country.
"The only problem is that they are in their raw form; so what we are trying to do is to develop the sector to create an environment for private people to be able to harness those natural resources, process them and supply to the big industries so that this 80 to 90 per cent can gradually begin to come down."
He observed that for Nigeria to be competitive, it must ensure sustainable supply of raw materials in the right quantity and quality from within the country, adding that the reduction in the importation of raw materials would lead to the creation of jobs, as well as the generation of wealth within the economy.
"When such raw materials are harnessed, new processing industries will come up just as new products will come into the market to help the people to make more money. The sources of those raw materials should be from Nigeria because hundreds of billions are used in purchasing raw materials annually but only 10 per cent comes from Nigeria. Yet, we have natural resources and primary commodities," he said.