The director-general, National Research Institute for Chemical Technology (NARICT) Zaria, Kaduna State, Prof. Jeffrey Barminas has revealed that Nigeria lost over USD1billion to the importation of chemical materials in 2022.
Speaking during a side event ‘NARICT Day’ at the just concluded Science Technology and Innovation (STI) Expo 2023 themed “Actualising Effective Diversification of the Nigerian Economy Through STI” in Abuja, he urged the Federal Government to put a stop to the trend.
Barminas added that the importation is on the increase due to the high demand for chemicals in different industries across the country.
“[Inspite of the] fledgling foreign exchange we have, we still spend a whopping USD 1.4billion in 2022. That’s huge and I believe it is still going to increase because globally, over eight thousand chemicals are produced and they find application in different industries. So, it will always be on the rise,” he said.
The NARICT boss called on the Nigerian government to take the advantage of its vast resources in chemical technology to produce different profiles of chemicals that should be imported into the country.
He lamented that most of the industries tagged ‘chemical industries’ in Nigeria are merely serving as packaging industries for other nations. He added that despite Nigeria’s enormous human capital and resources in the chemical sector, it is lagging behind in the industry because it has not considered the industry as the bedrock of its development and has not made the needed investment in the sector.
“There must be a deliberate policy to help us to look inwards [and] use backward integration to see how we can produce these chemicals and save our foreign exchange,” he reasoned.
Barminas stressed the centrality of the chemical industry to other allied universal, adding that NARICT has produced different fertilisers and agro-chemical products that are very useful to farmers. He noted that the textile and garment industry, including the leather industry, depend on the chemical industry and called for effective collaboration between allied industries.
He noted that when passed into law, the NARICT Bill will give the agency the full mandate to fulfil its responsibilities without hitches.
Earlier in her remarks, the permanent secretary, Federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, Mrs. Monilola Udoh stressed that the chemical technology industry in Nigeria needs to be strengthened to reduce the level of chemical importation into the country.
She stated that Nigeria tops the list of countries with the best combination of resources globally but called for more collaboration between the agencies to harness these resources.