The Federal Government yesterday called on the private sector to increase investments in local production of cement.
Minister of Commerce and Industry, Engineer Charles Ugwuh, who fielded questions from reporters during a forum on enterprise zones and industrial clusters in Lagos, said even though government had approved controlled importation of cement to solve the problem of scarcity on a short-term, local production remains the best way out of the current cement crisis.
Ugwuh explained that the reason why the Federal Government resisted the temptation to open wide the door to importation of cement.
He said local cement capacity estimated at six to eight million metric tons per year, is unable to cope with demand, thereby leaving a shortfall, which presents an enormous challenge to deal with.
"A major factor which has over the years hindered efforts at growing local cement capacity is infrastructural deficiency, particularly poor power supply. Added to this headache, is the global rise in the demand for cement, precipitated by the boom in the construction industry worldwide," he said, adding that there is a growing local demand for cement, which is currently estimated at between 18 and 20Mta."