Nigeria’s Push For Self-Reliance


The Future of Nigeria

It is only halfway through 2015, and Nigeria has already witnessed great changes. A recalculated GDP saw it rise to over $500bn, and become Africa’s largest economy. A transparent election watched avidly across the world resulted in a peaceful transition of power. Nigeria’s new government, it seems, has embarked on an ambitious programme. Just weeks after President Buhari’s inauguration, the army command centre was relocated to Maiduguri  in Nigeria’s north-east, close to Boko Haram’s main bases. Military might is not the only goal of the new Nigeria. After decades of relying on other countries for imports, the tide is beginning to turn. The first frontier is food.

Sugar is widely used in Nigeria, however, it is not grown locally. A staggering 98% of all the sugar used in Nigeria is imported.

Naturally, this has taken a financial toll, with Nigeria’s exchange rate costs related to these imports exceeding $300m. The establishment of a new sugar cane factory just outside of the capital seeks to begin this change. The new ‘bio factory’ is the first of many. Seeds are held in controlled conditions until they begin to sprout. Once this happens, the seedlings can be delivered to farms and plantations, and planted to grow sugar cane. The establishment of these factories is part of the Nigerian Sugar Master Plan, which has already lead to a ban on the importation of packaged sugar. In the long term, the plan hopes to create 2500 square kilometres of sugar cane plantations, removing the need for importation altogether.

Nigeria’s oil sector also seeks to become entirely self-reliant. Despite being Africa’s largest oil producer, producing 2.7 million barrels per day in 2014, Nigeria does not refine it own crude oil. Crude oil products, such as gasoline, diesel, and other oils must be imported. This too is about to change.

Earlier this year, billionaire entrepreneur Aliko Dangote announced his plans to build a new oil refinery. The refinery will be the largest in Africa, and will transform Nigeria into a net exporter of petroleum products.

With the refinery set to begin production within two years, it won’t be long before imports are a thing of the past. By reinvigorating the military to take the fight to the terrorists, investing in sugar cane, and the commitment to fully harness the power of its oil production, Nigeria is firmly on the move to self-sufficiency. With Nigeria’s new government only just settling in, many more measures may be on the horizon.

[via Guardian]

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