The Russian government, through its Ambassador to Nigeria, H.E Alexey Shebarshir, has pledged to support the Federal Government in its efforts to revamp the ailing Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited.
The Federal Government has in the recent past intensified efforts to revive the steel manufacturing company which was incorporated in 1979 but has never started operations.
According to Olamilekan Adegbite, Minister of Mines and Steel Development, the government is committed to towards ensuring that sections of the Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited start production before the end of 2019.
In expressing his country’s commitment to the project, the Russian envoy said, “Russia is ready to partner the Federal Government to revamp the ailing company.”
H.E Shebarshir also revealed that Russia was willing to participate in rebuilding infrastructure and overhauling of the company’s plants.
Adegbite noted that the revitalisation of Ajaokuta Steel was of utmost concern to the present administration and the pledge from Russia to help in the rescusitation of the steel milling facility was therefore highly welcome.
“The government is ready to embrace any collaboration aimed at revitalising the steel industry to operate in full capacity,”said Adegbite.
“The Federal Government is working round the clock to ensure that sections of the company start production before the end of the year,” Adegbite said.
The Ajaokuta Steel facility which has the potential of becoming the largest steel miller in Africa has never been functioning optimally since its inception in 1979.
The government cited legal encumbrances as one of the setbacks affecting the company’s performance.
According to the minister, plans were underway to engage relevant companies on meaningful discussions with a view to employing strategic approaches towards revamping the company.
The Russian envoy however stated that, there was a need for the Federal Government to protect private investors who are interested in turning around the company for maximum production.
Ajakouta Steel Company was a project undertaken by the Soviet Union in 1967 and was expected to start operation in 1979.
The facility which sits on a 59,000 acre piece of land has for over 40 years operated in minimal capacity and is expected to produce over 10 million tonnes of steel rods annually once fully operational.