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Tinubu to Lithium Investors: Nigeria set to become Africa’s solar panel, EV battery manufacturing hub

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in a Group Photograph in the State House, Abuja, FCT

*President Bola Ahmed Tinubu applauds activation of Nigeria’s largest lithium processing plant, in Nasawara State, and $200 million fresh investment in a new plant, urging the Chinese firms to prioritise environmental protection, community engagement, and corporate social responsibility initiatives in their operations

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has commended the inauguration of Nigeria’s largest lithium processing plant in Lafia, Nasarawa State.

Tinubu, who stated this Friday, May 10, 2024, during a meeting with Governor (Engr.) Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State, in Abuja, FCT, hailed the development, describing it as “a clear indication of the country’s attractiveness for foreign investment.”

Ajuri Ngelale, Presidential Spokesman, also noted Governor Sule was accompanied by Mr. Hi Yongwei, Chairman of Avatar New Energy Materials Company Limited, and Mr. Zhenhua Pei, Chairman, Canmax Technologies.

The Federal Government disclosed Avatar, a Chinese firm, built the lithium processing plant that produces about 4,000 metric tonnes daily, while Canmax Technologies is a renowned Chinese firm responsible for over 30 percent of global battery material production, announced a new investment of $200 million for another lithium processing plant in Nasarawa State.

Welcoming the inauguration of the plant and the announcement of new investment plans in the country, President Tinubu urged the Chinese firms to prioritise environmental protection, community engagement, and corporate social responsibility initiatives as integral parts of their operations.

The Nigerian leader stated: “There are other aspects of lithium that you are exploring in the country, especially in battery production.

“Nigeria is a huge market for solar panels. Africa is a major consumer of solar technologies.”

The President also said: “I do not see why these panels and batteries cannot be produced here. The labour is cheaper. Our youths are vibrant and skilled.

“Our people are brilliant and adapt to new technology. The economy is increasingly more vibrant, and Nigeria is dependable.

“We have the consumption capacity and a surplus of steady-handed citizens with gifted minds and an innate drive to work and produce.”

How, however, cautioned the firms to “not leave the community in ruins as you explore for our high-grade minerals.”

Tinubu further stated: “You must be concerned with cooperation and always care for the community.

”We are caring partners. We want your investments to succeed so that you can expand further. Whenever you call on us, we will help you.

“You can, in mutually-beneficial collaboration with us, dominate the solar panel market as part of a revolution in Africa and the West African sub-region.”

He equally, noted: “You can always promote the interest of China, and Nigeria as the best place in Africa to do business.

“We are preparing to produce in this country the solar technologies that the entire continent will use.”

Commendation for Minister Alake, Governor Sule on projects

Meanwhile, President Tinubu has applauded Governor Sule and Dr. Oladele Alake, Honourable Minister for Solid Minerals Development, for their dedication to ensuring environmental protection and value addition by mining firms operating in Nigeria.

Tinubu stated: “The Governor of Nasarawa State and the Honourable Minister of Solid Minerals, Oladele Alake, also share in these congratulations.

”It is a great joy to have you (the Chinese executives) in Nigeria. It is part of our campaign that Nigeria is open for business.”

The President also said: “We congratulate your courage on believing in us and the inauguration of the new factory.

”I can assure you that we will continue to give you the necessary support and encouragement.

“This is an opportunity for you to help tell the rest of the investment world that Nigeria is solid and open for business.”

In his remarks, Governor Sule of Nasarawa State thanked President Tinubu for his unflinching support toward solid mineral development in the country, and for sending Senate President Godswill Akpabio to represent him at the inauguration.

Sule noted: “The company that we just commissioned … in Nasarawa is a 500-million-dollar turnover company.

“They are happy, and they have seen enough potential to mine lithium in the region for the next 15 to 20 years.”

Speaking during the meeting, Dr. Alake also  said the Ministry of Solid Minerals Development had embarked on proactive measures to address the risks posed by abandoned mines across the country, left behind by colonialists in the 1950s and 1960s.

The Minister stated: “We are in the process of putting in place remedial measures, converting some of them into constructive uses, like farming and irrigation.

”To ensure that companies operating in this sector no longer abandon the mines after they have finished operations, it is part of our requirements that for licencing fresh applicants, there must be concrete remediation plans that are viable and working before any application is approved for mining.”

Local value addition a precondition for fresh mining licences: Alake

The Minister emphasised that prospective applicants seeking mining licences must demonstrate a commitment to enhancing local value across the entire mining value chain, aligning with the government’s agenda to promote indigenous participation and economic empowerment.

He asserted: “Your Excellency, in a nutshell, permit me to revel in the belief with conviction that under your leadership, with all the policy initiatives you have put in place, there is nowhere else for Nigeria to go but forward. Forward ever and backward never.”

In separate remarks, the Chinese executives described their investments in Nigeria as worthwhile.

They pledged to adhere to mining regulations while fulfilling their corporate social responsibilities to host communities in Nigeria.

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