Japanese firms to revive Ajaokuta steel
Alifa Daniel, Ajaokuta
ANOTHER step in steel
development was taken at the weekend when the Federal
Government secured the partnership of an American consortium
and a Japanese company to complete and roll out liquid steel
from the N50 billion worth Ajaokuta Steel Company in Kogi
Power and Steel Minister, Dr. Olusegun Agagu, yesterday in
Abuja led a team, comprising Minister of State for Power and
Steel, Mallam Murtala Aliyu and Chairman of Ajaokuta Steel
Company board, Major General Chris Ali (rtd), to sign for the
Federal Government, while Solgas Energy of United States was
represented by its President, Arthur Milton Odum.
In a separate agreement, Japanese giant Kobe Steel, signed
a pact to increase the capacity of the Ajaokuta Steel Complex
by an additional 500,000 metric tonnes. The Japanese are
introducing the Fast Melt Technology to achieve the feat.
Vice-President Takiya Negami signed the agreement on behalf of
his company, Kobe Steel.
Negami gave the credit for the joint venture partnership to
President Olusegun Obasanjo's trips. He said it was the
president's visit to Japan last year that facilitated the
The Guardian learnt that over $1 billion will be
pumped into the Ajaokuta Steel Complex by the two firms and
the Federal Government.
Solgas Energy had proposed to the Federal Government the
expenditure of $986 million on rehabilitation and
commissioning of the complex, on partnership, in funding and
profit sharing basis while Kobe Steel may jointly with the
Federal Government expend about $200 million to introduce a
new component to the steel plant.
The component will raise production to 1.8 million metric
tonnes yearly, from its initial 1.3 million metric tonnes.
Speaking yesterday, an elated Agagu said the new
partnerships will make Nigeria's steel plant one of the best
in the world.
"You know why it is said that it was built by the Russia
and now it is being run by Germans, Japanese, Americans and
Nigerians all on one spot. I don't think there is any other
steel plant in the world that can boast of such," Agagu added.
The minister described the steel making part of ASC as the
"most stubborn" problem of the complex, adding that the
venture with Solgas would set ASC on course for full
He described ASC as the "single largest investment" in the
country, having gulped $4.5 billion, even as he gave an
assurance that dividends would soon start accruing as a result
of the government's renewed zeal.
He said: "A lot of foreign exchange goes into the purchase
of these items and it is interesting that we can now produce
The minister commended the efforts of ASC officials and
promised to keep the tempo going until the ultimate goal is
Signing the agreements on behalf of their companies, Arthur
Odum of Slogas and Takuya Negami of Kobe, assured their
business partners of their commitment to the ventures and
lauded the improved business climate in the country, adding
that on completion of the project, Nigeria would be the
largest producer of steel in Africa.
He stated: "There will be new jobs, the economy will
improve with an enhanced capacity utilisation and a tremendous
amount of new jobs for the Nigerian people".
The Ajaokuta Steel Complex was conceived in 1963 and if
completed next year as scheduled, it would have taken 40 years
to realise the dream of its founders and Nigerians, Agagu