Following Nigeria’s quest to attain self-sufficiency in sugar production, stakeholders in the sugar industry have continued to take steps through the National Sugar Master Plan (NSMP) to attain sufficiency in production.
The federal government in unrelenting in its resolve to achieve self-sufficiency in sugar production and export. It has continued to take steps through its National Sugar Master Plan (NSMP) aimed at attaining self-sufficiency in sugar production through the Backward Integration Policy (BIP) that encourages sugar companies to invest in sugarcane farming and promote domestically produced extracts for their refineries.
The implementation of the NSMP began in 2013, and is anchored on four major planks, including raising local production of sugar to attain self-sufficiency; stemming the rising tide of unbridled importation of the commodity; creating a huge number of job opportunities and also contribute to the production of ethanol and generation of electricity.
Though the National Sugar Development Council (NSDC) is the leading implementing agency of the policy, its implementation involves allocation of responsibilities to relevant stakeholders like the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
Others are Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Federal Ministry of Finance, as well as other relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs). In addition, stakeholder institutions and facilitators such as millers, importers, cane growers and banks continue to play pivotal roles in the implementation of the master plan.
Speaking the CEO of Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise (CPPE), Dr Muda Yusuf, said that for Nigeria to be self-sufficiency in sugar production is to further support investors in the backward integration of sugar, saying “we have quite a number of them, BUA Foods, Dangote Sugar Refinery, Flour Mills of Nigeria among others, they have hectares of land across the country.”
He observed that the investors are facing a lot of challenges and part of it are the recent flood experienced in the northern part of the country; issue of crisis with the community due to hectares of land needed for plantations; issues around security as most of the sugar plantation are in the north; among others.
He called, “on the government support in ensuring there is adequate security cover for them to operate. Also, there should be funds available for the sector, it is a capital-intensive business because we are talking of agriculture and returns on investment in the sector is a long term. We have to see how we can support them with concessionary funding.
“The backward integration which was put in place under the sugar policy, the backward integration policy needs to be strictly adhered to because the backward integration policy has to do with licensing to import raw sugar and refine in proportion to the investment in the backward integration.”
Speaking on the Nigeria’s Sugar Industry and the milestones recorded so far on the Presidential Sugar Backward Integration Program (BIP), the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Niyi Adebayo recently said his is a key sector that has received the required attention by this administration in order to fully realise its economic development and growth potentials.
He affirmed that the NSMP has succeeded in attracting notable private sector investments from the Dangote Group, the Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc; the BUA Sugar Company and the Nigeria Sugar Company, Bacita, Kwara State, that was recently acquired by the KIA Group.
These investors, according to him, have created over 15,000 jobs at their BIP sites, developed 20,000 hectares of land and put over 12,000 hectares of land under cane.
He, however, observed that backward integration of high-value commodities through agro-processing would requires a whole-of-government approach to provide the enabling environment necessary to address the challenges which arise.
Speaking recently at its 16th annual general meeting (AGM) in Lagos, the chairman of the company, Aliko Dangote, said the goal of Dangote Sugar Backward Integration Projects Master plan remains the achievement of 1.5 million MT annually from locally grown sugarcane in support of the quest for sugar sufficiency in the country by the federal government of Nigeria.
He stated that this will be achieved in addition to the extended value chain benefits that will be derived from the projects including thousands of jobs that will be generated in the sector from these projects.
He assured of the company’s commitment to the achievement of Sugar Backward integration projects, which is the future of the industry in Nigeria.
Also, the group managing director/chief executive officer of Dangote Sugar, Mr. Ravindra Singhvi said: “we remained ahead of the pack in implementation of the National Sugar backward Integration Development Master Plan.”
He explained that “steady progress is now being made as we continue the rehabilitation and expansion project at Dangote Sugar, Numan; and development activities at the Nasarawa Sugar Company Limited, Tunga. The board and management remain resolute and commitment to ensuring a sustainable future for our business with the Dangote Sugar Master Plan.”airspace to Ethiopia airlines which will come and take our slot and not bring in anything. Why are they not offering Nigerians and Nigeria Government anything on Ethiopia Airlines?
“But they want to take our slot, give us aircraft that will be maintained by them, that we will lease and pay them, and they will give us top management staff and crew.
“We have a vibrant domestic airline industry of investors. You cannot bring them over and give them power and protection above existing investors which is the crux of this issue.”
Also, the secretary general, Nigerian Union of Air Transport Employee (NUATE), Com. Abba Ocheme, said the Nigeria Air project is a ruse as presently propagated by the minsiter of aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika.
According to him, the type of FDI the sector needs is the one that will keep its investment in the country and not the one that will lead to repatraition of proceeds out of the country.
He said, “ The Nigeria Air project is now on the court to give its judgement because it is now a purely legal issue. Also, I am not a fan of FDI that come with right hand and take away with the left hand. That is when the investment matures, they repatraite the fund. Ethopia Air will now be operating our Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA). We want an airline that will reduce repatraition of funds that we are presently facing now, and not a National Carrier that will have to look for foreign currency for them to repatraite their fund to their country,” he said.
In an exclusive chat with NATIONAL ECONOMY, the chief executive officer, Centurion Aviation Security and Safety Consult, Capt. John Ojikutu (rtd), said the saga would prolong the startup of the project or may keep it in temporary or permanent hold.
Ojikutu, a former commandant, Muritala Mohammed Airport, Lagos, said the domestic airlines may be justified to challenge the federal government but not the the airlines as a competitive operator with the planned National Carrier.
Ojikutu’s words, “The saga would prolong the startup of the Nigeria Air and may keep it on temporary or permanent hold. I had advised against the National Carrier when in 2018 it was clear that those in the management of the project were bent on the partnership with our competitors on the BASA routes.
“Alternative to the National Carrier, I suggested that the assets and the liabilities of Arik and Aero that are under the receivership of AMCON be assessed. Where there are no bankruptcy laws, invite foreign and local investors to buy into the airlines so the debts of the airlines can be ‘offloaded’. Designate the airline as flag carriers if we have problems in the partnership with foreign technical partners and investors from areas other than those who are our competitors on the BASA routes.
“Individuals Nigerian on the board of operators of domestic airlines may be justified to challenge the federal government but not the airlines as a competitive operator with the planned National Carrier. Any Nigerian too as stakeholder in national assets outside commercial aviation can if the Nigeria/Ethopia partnership is seen negatively as subverting the sovereignty and economic development of the Nigeria State.
“Such individual can challenge the equity holdings 5 per cent by the federal government as against 49 per cent of Ethiopian Government as well as the high percentage holdings shares of few individuals in the private companies holdings. What the domestic airlines should be asking from the government is the authority to operate as flag carriers on some of the intercontinental BASA routes and there are many of them.
“Globally, flag carriers other than National Carriers are more in the practice. The markets are there for the private airlines if and only if the government or the courts will not deny them the rights to fly on the BASA routes which are our commonwealth. The only thing they have to do is to ensure they open their doors to the Nigerian public through the Nigeria stock markets,” he said.
Also, the managing director of Top Brazz Aviation and former managing director of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, Roland Iyayi, said the proposed national airline would help Ethiopia Airlines achieve its domination of the African market, adding that the Ethiopian national carrier had formed similar agreements in eight other African countries.
He said, “This approach will decimate the local market. Agreement with Ethiopian Airlines will create cabotage. Ethiopian Airlines will come into our domestic market, lower fares (non-competitive fares) with the aim of taking over the market. The choice of Ethiopian Airlines will destroy our industry. We reject this totally.”
Iyayi, who is also a pilot, further said, “In anticipation of the Single African Air Transport Market, Ethiopian Airlines want to dominate the African market. The government is meant to support local carriers. Ethiopian Airlines has partnerships in eight other countries in Africa.
“ET currently has 135 planes. The CEO of the airline has said its plan to increase their fleet to 250 planes in the next five years. The intent is to go into the domestic market of all the African countries where they have footprints. This is simply aviation colonialism. If we take all of this onboard, you will wonder whether the government has the interest of Nigerian airlines at heart or not.”
“What Ethiopia is trying to do in essence is to make sure they have a hold on the largest market in the continent, to be able to project and propel themselves to Nigeria. They intend to double (the number) by 2050. Ethiopia as a country does not really have that market but they have a footprint in several local markets.
“Ethiopia will not help you to create an aviation hub when it has one in Addis Ababa. They are building a new airport. It will be very difficult to see how Ethiopia will commit to a national carrier in Nigeria that will be for the benefit of Nigerians. We dare to say, as AON, that if airplanes are brought into the Nigerian market, the first thing Ethiopia will do, as a strategy, is to do a fare cutting strategy for market penetration. When you cut the fares to compete with the local carriers—Ethiopia is awash with cash —they can afford to come to the market and project a six-month fare with domestic carriers.
“I can guarantee you that if they do that for six months, 90 per cent of the domestic airlines will be out of business. Afterwards, they will now dominate the domestic market through their monopoly. What happens when they increase the fare? Ultimately, Ethiopia will fly international; it will be flying on Nigeria’s designated routes.”