The former President of the Institute of Chartered Chemists of Nigeria, ICCON, Harry Okolo, said that Nigeria loses about N1 trillion annually to importation of industrial raw materials.
Mr. Okolo made this known while speaking with newsmen on Thursday at the ongoing Raw Materials Research and Development Council, RMRDC, techno-expo and silver jubilee.
He said that the country loses N1 trillion to the importation of between 80 per cent and 90 per cent industrial raw materials needed in the manufacturing and construction sectors of the economy.
Mr. Okolo said that the problem was not the non-availability of raw materials locally, but the inability of Nigerians to transform available natural resources to utilisable forms.
He urged the government and the organised private sector, to look inward and study the road map to industrial development as put together by the RMRDC in the past 25 years.
"If the industrial sector continues to depend on imported raw materials without investing in local raw materials development and utilisation, industrial development will remain a mirage," he said.
He commended RMRDC for its efforts in developing some secondary raw materials that were abundantly available in the country.
They include precipitated calcium carbonate, hydrated lime, glucose syrup and starch and high quality cassava flour.
Mr. Okolo said, "I believe Nigeria has a comparative advantage in the development and utilisation of these raw materials.
"If commercially exploited and developed, they can earn and save the nation huge foreign reserves."
Mr. Okolo said that for the Nigerian economy to be competitive at the global level, efforts must be made to produce goods and services with global perspectives, targeting global competitiveness.
"We must spare no effort to look inward to tap, develop and utilise the locally available raw materials.
"Government must make concert effort to address the critical issues of transparency, responsible governance, power generation, public private partnership, infrastructure and security.
"So, the country will have to provide a healthy environment for industrial transformation and investment," he said.
He said that if the industrial potentials of Nigeria could be maximally harnessed through the concerted and joint efforts of government, private sector and academia, the transformation agenda and vision 20:20-20 of the nation could be realised.