The Bank of Industry on Wednesday put its total loan portfolio in the solid minerals sector of the economy at N24.6 billion.
The Managing Director, BoI, Mr Rasheed Olaoluwa, said this in Abuja at the opening session of the bank’s one day Solid Mineral Sensitisation Forum tagged “ investment opportunities in the solid minerals sector’’.
He said the bank decided to improve funding to the sector due to the challenges facing the economy following the decline in revenue from the oil glut in the international market.
He said the sensitisation was part of measures by the bank to stimulate private sector investment into the solid minerals sector.
Olaoluwa said while other African countries took advantage of the huge potentials in the solid minerals sector which accounted for over 70 per cent of their revenues, Nigeria had yet to benefit from the sector.
He said there were about 44 solid minerals in the country that were identified by the Federal Government that would generate investments, create jobs and reduce the level of poverty in the country.
“Before independence, Nigeria had a solid mining industry. Later wards, the economy started relying extensively on petroleum from the 1970s.
“The dwindling oil revenue in recent times has made solid minerals a tool for diversification and this can be leveraged for economic growth as recommended by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa in its 2013 report.
“The mining sector is the gold mine for many African countries. Zambia derives more than 70 per cent of its revenue from copper, Ghana from gold, and Namibia from uranium.”
Olaoluwa said the bank had realised the potentials of the sector, thus it had realigned its operation to the financing of the sector through the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP).
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel, Mr Baba Farouk, said over the years, government had established legal and regulatory framework to guide the activities of the sector.
Farouk, who was represented by the Director, Mines Inspectorate, Mr Dauda Awojobi, said the regulations had brought sanity into the sector.
He said that the government had also introduced some incentives to attract investments into the sector.
These incentives, he said, included tax holidays, waivers from customs on import duties for mining purpose and three to five years tax holidays.
Also investors were given capital allowances of up to 95 per cent on investment in qualifying capital expenditure and ownership of 100 per cent.
All these, he said, had helped to attract the much needed local and foreign investment into the sector, thereby making the sector to grow faster and better than what it was in the past.
Farouk said that in spite of the growth, the sector was still plagued by many challenges which needed to be addressed.
Some of them of are inadequate funding, low level of information to attract investors, lack of International Standard Organisation certified analysts, and inability to access the National Minerals Resources Development Fund.
He said access to roads and electricity was a major drawback.
He said there was need for the government to focus on rail transport to ensure easy movement of raw materials. (NAN)