Nigerian Sleeping Giant (Ajaokuta Steel Company)
On independence day, a lot of hope was in Nigeria to lead Africa to become the next powerhouse for Africa. Many countries and individuals saw the birth of a nation that will steer up the African economy and lead the continent to economy bliss through industrialization.
About Ajaokuta Steel
Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited (ASCL) popularly known as Ajaokuta Steel was one of the giants the early fathers of Nigeria set up to lead the Nigerian fight to industrialization. This giant which was worth $4.6billion as of then was rooted in Ajaokuta, Kogi State on a 24,000 hectares (59,000 acres) site. It is said that the steel company has a coke oven and byproducts plant that is larger than all the refineries in Nigeria combined. However, it has never produced any steel, and it is non-operational.
The Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited was incorporated in 1979. The steel mill is said to have reached 98% completion in 1994. Many multimillion projects have been awarded and mismanaged sending the industrial giant to sleep. Ajaokuta Steel has been made another white elephant projects in Nigeria (the biggest if you ask me).
The Sleeping Giant
This giant has faced so many challenges including looting of its equipment, vandalism, deterioration of its facilities. It has also faced several failed attempts at privatization (the Nigerian government took back control in 2016). Many engineers sent abroad for training are fast retiring without even using those training they acquired.
The entire Ajaokuta Steel Project is bigger than Lokoja. There are 24 housing estates on the project and some of the estates have over 1000 homes. There is a National Diploma awarding institution there, a Hospitals and even a seaport. Then there is the main Steel Plant itself on 12,000 plots of land. It has a 68-kilometre road network and another 24-kilometre road network underground.
Ajaokuta Steel is Nigeria’s biggest mineral resource investment in one place, unlike the oil refineries scattered far away from the oil source. With Ajaokuta, everything is either on the site or nearby. It has 43 plants and 40 of them are already completed and ready to run. At the core of the Ajaokuta Project is a blast furnace. This type of furnace is used for 70% of the world’s steel production. It is sad that the Ajaokuta furnace has never been turned on. The entire project was estimated at $4.6 billion. That would equate to about $14.5 billion today when you add yearly inflation rates.
Ajaokuta, the bedrock of Nigerian Industrialization.
What is the problem this giant that has kept it from waking up since it fell at sleep? Is it money, resources or professionals? I think its the lack of political will. A project this massive with the potential to solve Nigeria unemployment problem, economic dependency and massively increase the national wealth of this country among many other things should not be left sleeping this long. The project has come too far to stop now. I think it is high time we woke up this sleeping giant, equip him and let him lead the Nigeria fight for diversification, industrialization, job creation and wealth generation. Ajaokuta Steel Company is the Bedrock of Nigerian Industrialization.
LAWAL Richard Oluwaseun (richseun)