COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE END OF THE 41ST ANNUAL CONFERENCE OF THE NIGERIAN SOCIETY OF CHEMICAL ENGINEERS (NSChE).
THEME: REVERSING THE DE-INDUSTRIALIZATION OF NIGERIA: THE ROLE OF CHEMICAL ENGINEERING.
PREAMBLE: The Nigerian Society of Chemical Engineers held its 41st Annual Conference at Eko Hotel & Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos, November 10-12, 2011.
The Conference was chaired by Mr. Mutiu Sunmonu, Managing Director/CEO of SPDC and Country Chair, SHELL Companies in Nigeria, ably represented by Mr. Bisi Dere, Regional Petroleum Engineering Manager – Africa, SHELL.
Other important dignitaries who attended the Conference were:
· His Excellency, Babatunde Raji Fashola; SAN - the Executive Governor of Lagos State, ably represented by Mr. Adebiyi Fatai Mabadeje, Honorable Commissioner - Science and Technology.
· Engr. Olumuyiwa A. Ajibola; FNSE, President-Nigerian Society of Engineers, ably represented by Engr. Otis Anyaeji; FNSE, Vice President - Corporate Resources, NSE.
· Chief John A. Odeyemi; MFR, FCA, PNSChE, Chairman - JKN Limited
· Ms. Evelyn Oputu, Managing Director/CEO – Bank of Industry
· Engr. Ernest Nwapa, Executive Secretary – Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board
· Engr. Andrew L. Yakubu, Group Executive Director Exploration & Production; NNPC
· Prof. Rahamon A. Bello; FNSChE, Deputy Vice Chancellor – University of Lagos
· Engr. Jide Ayo-Vaughan; FNSChE, Executive Director – ExxonMobil Corporation and Chairman, Local Organizing Committee (LOC) of the Conference.
· Dr. N. John Erinne; FNSChE, National President – NSChE
The Conference considered scholarly papers delivered by the Keynote Speaker, Ms. Evelyn Oputu, Lead Speakers, Chief Kola Jamodu, President - Manaufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and Engr. Ernest Nwapa, Executive Secretary – Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, as well as other eminent Engineers in the industry, acadamia and research institutes on the theme and sub-themes of the Conference.
The Conference noted as follows:
i. The Manufacturing Sector in Nigeria has declined from contributing nearly 10% of the GDP of the country 10 years ago, to less than 5% presently, which is considered utterly abysmal.
ii. The decline is further buttressed by the fact that average capacity utilization in the Sector is barely 47% presently.
iii. The key factor responsible for this very disturbing situation is the acute shortfall in mains power supply at the right voltage, as well as poor infrastructural facilities such as water, roads, security, etc.
iv. Other contributory factors include: inconsistent government policies, multiply taxation and high cost of funds.
v. There is complete lack of heavy industries which are strategic for industrial and economic development. eg. steel, chloro-alkali, industrial solvents/petrochemicals, pulp/paper, etc.
vi. Development of local raw materials for the Manufacturing Sector appears to have been relegated by government.
vii. Industrial production remains the most important means of creating employment in society.
viii. Industry-Acadamia/Research-Government collaboration, which ordinarily should assist to foster mutual assistance and support, is very weak.
ix. Chemical Engineering is recognized as a key technological discipline relevant to the Manufacturing Sector in general, and the Chemical/Process Industry in particular. Chemical Engineers however, do not seem to make the expected impact for now.
The following recommendations which can assist reverse the industrial decline were proferred.
i. The Federal Government, as well as the various State Governments, are enjoined to lift the Manufacturing Sector to the top of their priority lists.
ii. In particular, government is urged to as a matter of priority set up a road-map for reviving key industries which are presently comatose: Steel, Pulp/Paper, Fertilizer and Textiles.
iii. Deliberate efforts should be made by government to revive the thrust on increased use of local raw materials in industry, possibly with linkages to the Nigerian Content drive.
iv. The Federal Government is also urged to pursue the Power Sector Reform relentlessly until regular and stable power supply is attained.
v. All stakeholders are encouraged to get together and establish necessary platforms for the vitally required Industry-Academia/Research-Government interaction.
vi. Chemical Engineers are also encouraged to play a more active role in the Manufacturing Sector. In particular, they should increasingly aspire to entrepreneurship, setting up process plants for production of various industrial and commodity products vitally required in the economy.
vii. Chemical Engineers as a body, through NSChE, should endeavor to interface with governmental agencies responsible for industrial promotion, both at the federal and states levels, providing them dispassionate, professional advice in areas relevant to the Process Industry.