The sugar processing sub-sector of the economy has attracted over N250 billion investments in the last seven years.
The Executive Secretary, National Sugar Development Council (NSDC), Mr. Zacch Adedeji, disclosed this in a statement on Tuesday.
Adedeji said available records showed that Nigeria is recording steady and appreciable progress in the implementation of its policy roadmap for the sugar sector as captured in the Nigeria Sugar Master Plan (NSMP), a blueprint designed to revitalise the sector and make Nigeria a net exporter of the commodity.
The NSMP is a 10-year ambitious policy framework for the sector which seeks to bring about a complete overhaul of the sector to enable Nigeria become self-sufficient in sugar production, create direct and indirect jobs, generate electricity, become a notable global sugar producer as well as produce ethanol for industrial use and utilisation.
Implementation of the policy took off in 2013 after it was approved by the Federal Executive Council in September 2012, as the government’s strategy roadmap for sugar development in Nigeria.
Adedeji noted that seven years into the policy, the sector has attracted over N250 billion worth of investments through its Backward Integration Programme (BIP), even as more investors have expressed their willingness to commit their resources to the sector. He said a new investor, KIA Group Africa, just completed the process of acquiring the defunct Nigeria Sugar Company (NISUCO) in Bacita, Kwara State, adding that it has since commenced work.
“The KIA Group now joins existing industry players like the Dangote Group, BUA Group and the Flour Mills to drive the BIP component of the NSMP,” he said.
According to the NSDC boss, the new owner has set its eyes on producing at least 300,000 metric tonnes of sugarcane, refining an estimated 204,000 metric tonnes of the sweet commodity, and generating N46 billion revenue by 2027. He further revealed that a workforce of about 20,000 would be engaged to drive the company towards optimum production and ensure economic growth of the country.
Adedeji said that another major player in the industry, Flour Mills Limited, recently signed a multi-million agreement with the Nasarawa State Government to build a factory in Toto Local Government Area of the state. The new project is in addition to the company’s N50 billion Golden Sugar estate in Sunti, Niger State, which was commissioned in 2018 by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The press statement signed by the Director, Executive Secretary’s Office, Mal. Ahmed Waziri, restated government’s readiness to build a globally competitive sugar industry that would boost local economy, provide jobs for Nigeria’s teeming youth population and position Nigeria as a net exporter of the commodity.
Adedeji said the council in its wisdom recently convened a roundtable of stakeholders to deliberate and share perspectives on challenges associated with the importation of equipment and machineries by some operators. The meeting brought together stakeholders from the Nigeria Customs Service, Federal Ministry of Finance, Central Bank of Nigeria as well as members of the organised private sector. The forum later deliberated and adopted modest and cost-effective measures that would address the concerns of both the government and operators.
On perennial disagreements and clashes over land between host communities and sugar operators, he disclosed that the council has engaged important stakeholders on how best to address the issue.
“We have found a solution to the problem. We now have a body known as the Forum of Sugar Producing States, headed by Governor Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State. The body comprises governors across sugar producing belts in the country. Their major role is to help provide land for sugar projects in their respective states thereby putting an end to frequent clashes arising from land ownership between communities and sugar operators,”he said.