The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, on Wednesday, called for the globalisation of the nation’s economy to attract more foreign investors in the country.
The minister made the call in Abuja while addressing the sixth Sustainability in the Extractive Industries Conference, organised by the CSR-in-Action in Abuja for stakeholders in the extractive industry.
Kachikwu said since 2012 when the conference started, a lot had been achieved and called for the development of the nation’s local economy for global participation.
He called for“the strengthening of our local economy in such a way that it can take advantage of extra border foray and invest in other countries’’.
He said that unless the local economy was robust and strengthened, it could not play an international role and would not attract foreign investors.
According to Kachikwu, to attract investors, the nation needs to build a sufficient and robust infrastructure to enable cost of production to be at the lowest level to do business in Nigeria.
He said the infrastructure in the nation’s oil sector for 30 to 40 years had not been sufficiently developed and everything seemed to be in a state of decay.
“So we have a real major challenge in the oil sector for the next five years; so we need to create a five-year Marshal Plan to replace decayed infrastructure in the sector.
“And nowhere is more apparent than like in the refinery sector where we are one of the major OPEC producers and we are still importing bulk of our petroleum products.
“This is because our refinery infrastructure has not been maintained at the same level with other countries such as Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire where 90 per cent of their refineries capacity are working,’’ he said.
He reiterated the need to upgrade the nation’s oil infrastructure, adding that this was not easy now because Nigeria did not save enough during the oil boom and could not do this now because oil price had fallen.
Kachikwu urged the government to provide tax holidays and good enabling environment to encourage local producers, noting that instead of vilifying local producers, Nigerians should commend them to do more.
He added that the key to doing business was finance and there was a need to assist our local producers through development finance and by creating necessary financial incentives to help them do their business.
He said infrastructure financing institutions such as Bank of industry, Bank of Agriculture and Bank of Infrastructure also needed to be strengthened to attract enough resources and capital for the sector.
He advised Nigeria and Angola to bring African oil market together so that oil and gas that were exported from Africa would come from them because America and Europe were developed and “it remained Asia and Africa’’.
He said Nigeria needed to sample four or five areas and put the policies needed, so that before five years the critical areas would be solidly financed to take on the world challenges.
Other things he said, that would develop Nigeria’s economy included opening it to foreign participation, investing robustly in security, encourage state policing and border protection to protect the borders because they were porous.
Earlier, Maikanti Baru, the Group Managing Director of NNPC, said Nigeria was endowed with over 39 billion barrels of oil reserves and 192 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves.
Baru, who was represented by Mr Saidu Mohammed, the Chief Operating Officer, Gas and Power for NNPC, said that Nigeria was among the 20 top nations in terms of hydro carbon reserves.
According to him, Nigeria’s production is building up and NNPC is currently producing about 2.2 million barrels per day and about eight billion standard cubic feet of gas per day.
He said that the intention of NNPC was to sustain the current oil and gas production in the country.
Bekeme Masade, Founder/Chief Executive, CRS-in-Action, said Nigeria should be a country where artisanal/local refineries and miners were sustainably engaged and collaborated to operate legally in the global market.
She said the aim of the conference was to build national plans for local capacity within the sector that was channelled through the Nigerian mining industry Roadmap with seven minerals.
She listed the minerals to include coal, bitumen, limestone, iron ore, barites gold and lead.
Masade said Nigeria could not talk about diversification, recovery and growth plan without building local capacity for global competitiveness.
According to her, the local capacity in the extractive sector should be harnessed so that opportunities in the industry will fast track economic development in the country.