• Saturday, May 25, 2024
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BusinessDay

Developing ceramic industry as a medium for job creation

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One of the crucial challenges confronting the Nigerian government currently is the issue of rising unemployment. In fact, available reports from various local and international media and the obvious evidence of joblessness across the country in recent time are clear indications that there has never been a time in Nigeria’s history that unemployment is as serious as now. However, in spite of the availability of both raw materials and human capacity for production of quality ceramic products in Nigeria, ceramic products are heavily imported from overseas.

At the International Ceramics Trade Fair organised by EPIA Technologies Limited recently in Lagos, the Director General of Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi (FIIRO) Gloria Elemo, revealed that Nigeria spends well over N90 billion on imported ceramics annually. According to her, the global expenditure on ceramics is projected to rise to about $408 billion by 2018, but Nigeria, a potential giant in ceramic indus¬trial sector is yet to tap the huge non-metallic solid mineral re¬sources of the country. Also, she stated that without ce¬ramics, the automotive industry would not produce or assemble cars; the wristwatches cannot work; there will be no power transmission and the health sector will be dysfunctional, pointing out that people’s broken bones are re¬placed with ceramics.

Records show that the ceramic industry covers up to 7000 products and processes and Nigeria has enough raw materials in this meadow to support a vigorous ceramic industry that can make a great difference to the productivity of those industries that need ceramic products as raw materials or intermediates. In fact, the ceramic industry in modern times is a very large one, and it is basic to the successful operations of many other industries. The major sectors which are based on the ceramic products include: wall and floor tiles, bricks and roof tiles, household ceramics, refractory products, sanitary ware, technical ceramics, vitrified clay pipes, expanded clay aggregates, and inorganic bonded abrasives.

Investment analysts reveal that the ceramics industry represents an annual production value of around € 25 billion, accounting for approximately 25 per cent of the global production, and over 200,000 direct jobs throughout the EU. But, there is currently no ceramic glaze manufacturing company in Nigeria and this presents a unique opportunity for entrepreneurs to meet this gaping need and contribute to the revival of Nigeria’s moribund ceramics industry.

Although, depending on the specific production processes, plants manufacturing ceramic products cause emissions to be released into air, water and land (waste). Additionally, the environment can be affected by noise and unpleasant smells; the type and quantity of air pollution, wastes and waste water depend on different parameters such as the raw materials used, the auxiliary agents employed, the fuels used and the production methods. However, the benefits in terms of job creation, revenue for government and investors as well as savings in foreign exchange, far out weight these problems.

Therefore, government should encourage the exploration, exploitation and utilisation of the non-metallic solid mineral re¬sources to attract investors to the sector through special policy direction; as well as initiating collaboration between stakeholders to invest in the raw material processing indus¬try to serve ceramic and numerous other industries. Also, through strategic investments and collaborations between government and the private sector, it is possible to exploit the abundant yet largely untapped potential of the country’s ceramics industry. And the production of ceramic glaze is a wise investment choice because there is a ready market for the products both locally and in the international market. Indigenous emergence of ceramics glaze manufacturers will encourage the reactivation of dead factories and improve the exploration and appropriate utilisation of our nation’s abundant solid mineral resources.