The Bank of Industry (BoI) on Wednesday put its total loan portfolio in the solid minerals sector of the economy at N24.6bn.
The Managing Director, Mr Rasheed Olaoluwa said this in Abuja while speaking at the opening session of a sensitisation programme on investment opportunities in the solid minerals sector.
He said in view of the challenges facing the economy owing to the fall in crude oil prices, the bank had decided to improve on funding to the sector.
Olaoluwa said the sensitisation programme was part of measures by the bank aimed at stimulating private sector investment into the solid minerals sector.
He lamented that while other African countries had taken advantage of the huge potential in the solid minerals sector as revenue from that sector accounted for over 70 per cent of their revenues, Nigeria had yet to benefit from the sector.
Olaoluwa disclosed that there were about 44 solid minerals in the country that had been identified by the Federal Government that would generate investments, create jobs and reduce the level of poverty in the country.
He said, “Before independence Nigeria has a solid mining industry
The economy then 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 Africa countries. Zambia derives more than 70 per cent of its revenue from copper, Ghana from gold, and Namibia from uranium.
He said the bank had realised the potential of the sector. adding that this had enable it to realign its operation to the financing of the sector through the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan.
He added, “The NIRP which was launched in February 2014 was done to improve diversification and competitiveness. The BoI has fully aligned its operations with the objectives of the NIRP with the launching of dedicated business groups.
“Our total loans to the solid minerals industry stand at N24.6bn. The Federal Government has also identified 44 solid minerals that are available in commercial quantities in Nigeria.”
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel, Baba Farouk, said the Federal Government, over the years had tried to improve on mining in the country through the establishment of legal and regulatory framework to guide the activities of the sector.
The government, he added, had introduced some incentives to attract investments into the sector.