Why effort to concession Ajaokuta steel plant is delayed, by FG

The Federal Government, yesterday, said legal hiccups arising from the decision of a London Court of Arbitration over the ownership of Ajaokuta Steel Complex, are still delaying its efforts to concession the steel plant.

The Sole Administrator of the complex, Sumaila Abdul-Akaba, told senators that a 2010 audit report showed that $1.2 billion was required to turn around the moribund plant.

Minister of Solid Mineral Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, told a joint Senate and House of Representatives Committee on Power, Steel Development and Metallurgy, that until all the issues of arbitration are addressed, it will be difficult to put up Ajaokuta Steel Complex for concession.

Fayemi, who spoke at the 2018 budget defence of his ministry, noted that they were working to bring life back to the moribund steel complex. The minister was responding to a question about when Ajaokuta Steel would be brought back to function maximally.

The Federal Government and Messrs Global Steel Holding Limited, an Indian firm, started negotiation for amicable resolution of the ownership of Ajaokuta Steel Complex in 2008.

Abdul-Akaba, in his presentation, noted that following last technical audit of the steel plant in 2010, it was estimated that about $1.2 billion was required to achieve the total rehabilitation, completion and commissioning of the plant.

The amount, he said, included balance of external infrastructure. He gave the breakdown of the amount as $513 million for rehabilitation, completion and commissioning while $687 million will be used for balance of external infrastructure.

He appealed to the committee to ensure the total rehabilitation, completion and commissioning of the steel complex describing the plant as viable. The Sole Administrator also told the committee that by April, 55mw electricity plant installed in the complex would come on stream.

Abdul-Akaba said that there were 10,000 houses in the complex with about 4,000 completed, assuring the committee that machines installed in the complex are first class, and that “all we need to do is to sort out legal issues surrounding Ajaokuta Steel to bring the plant to run again.”

He said that the over $10 billion steel imported into the country annually could be saved if Ajaokuta was brought back on stream.

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