‘CBN will raise stake for diversification, wealth, job creation’
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said that it is not deterred by any wrong perception of its development financing interventions in the real sector of the economy, as it has proven to be a portent tool in job and wealth creation.
Besides, it has again assured genuine investors of cooperation and support towards self-sufficiency in local production of essential goods currently raising the nation’s yearly import bill and the economic diversification drive of the Federal Government.
The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, who gave assurance during the facility tour of the newly completed Sunti Golden Sugar factory in Sunti, Niger State, noted that the bank has invested about N26 billion in the project of such magnitude to encourage import substitution and backward integration strategy.
According to him, such investments are geared towards self-sufficiency, generation of employment and creation of wealth, urging smallholder sugar cane farmers in the area to leverage on the presence of the factory to boost production, as the company now serves as an off-taker that would buy all their produce.
The Chairman of the Flour Mill of Nigeria Group, owners of Sunti Golden Sugar Company, John Coumantaros, expressed profound appreciation for the uncommon support the apex bank has given the company, which without support the project wouldn’t have been completed on schedule.
Coumantaros noted that the N45 billion sugar-refining project is expected to create over 15,000 jobs, including 3,500 direct jobs, 3,000 small scale out-grower farmers, while saving over $50 million yearly foreign exchange for the country.
He further stated that Nigeria presently produces 1.7 million metric tonnes of raw sugar, which is just about two per cent of its needs, whereas countries like Benin Republic, Senegal and Mali currently produce 26 per cent, 48 per cent and 28 per cent of their local needs.
Given the country’s sugar needs, the estimated 100,000 metric tonnes of raw sugar to be produced by Sunti Golden Sugar would only augment the supply gap, create jobs and save foreign exchange for the country.
Nigeria’s yearly sugar import bill is estimated at about $450 million, and given the $50 million reduction expected from the full capacity run of the new sugar company with time, the sugar business seems to be yet untapped and beckoning on entrepreneurs and investors adopt it to save the country the huge loss in employment, wealth creation and foreign exchange depletion.
Still, the company’s operations processes, when properly harnessed, would ensure the generation of 10 megawatts of electricity, animal feeds and fertilizer inputs from the sugar cane residue.
The Niger State Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello, also commended the management of the CBN for providing the much needed fund for the projects and the Nigeria Flour Mills for working hard to fulfill its obligations to the host community by providing access roads, boreholes, electricity and health facility, in addition to the engagement of over 800 construction workers mostly from the host communities.
The state governor however, urged the company to train the workforce to be skilled labourers for future expansion, as well as commence the process of technology transfer, as part of its local content strategy.
He promised to work assiduously during his reign in the state to make Niger contribute towards making Nigeria self-sufficient in food production and become an exporting nation.
The Group Managing Director, Flour Mills Plc, Paul Gbedebo, gave an assurance that the sugarcane farmers, particularly those in Niger State, would no longer encounter the problem of searching for markets for their produce as the company would buy off everything going forward.The project is expected to be inaugurated in May 2016 by President Muhammadu Buhari.
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