At an oil and gas event in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, the executive secretary of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Engr Ernest Nwapa, once said that in the last 30 years, the country had spent more than $300 billion on the importation of goods and services for the oil and gas industry. According to him, this expenditure has helped to boost foreign economies “with little or no patronage of the local industry”.
Imagine the impact $300 billion would have made if invested in the Nigerian economy. The Nigerian Content Act of 2010, designed to promote education, employment, training, research and development; mandate local capacity development; create access for other sector services; as well as enhance employment generation and technology transfer, remains largely unimplemented.
But things are gradually changing. For instance, The National Assembly has assured that it will provide adequate legislation to deepen the implementation of the local content law in the nation’s oil and gas sector as well as ensure the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill, (PIB), currently before it.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Gas, Senator Bassey Albert Akpan, gave the assurance at the 2017 Nigeria Oil and Gas Opportunity Fair tagged “Advancing Indigenous Participation in the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry for National Development,” which held in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
He said the development was necessary in order to change the outlook of the nation’s oil and gas industry.
Akpan also charged international oil companies to collaborate with indigenous ones in order to give more meaning to the local content law.
The Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Local Content, Hon Emmanuel Ekon, assured foreign oil companies of support to create the enabling environment for their businesses to thrive.
The Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, (NCDMB), Engr Simbi Wabote, promised that the agency would ensure the implementation of local content laws in the country.
The Nigerian content policy is, indeed, a clarion call to the country’s entrepreneurs to look inwards in their business operations, not just in the oil and gas sector, but also in other sectors of the economy.
For instance, Nigeria has unfortunately become a dumping ground for all brands of electricity generating sets. Instead of just importing built-up sets, the economy will stand to gain a lot if the sets were assembled here, pending when the power sector sorts itself out. The trickledown effect in terms of technology transfer, capacity building and employment generation will really be impressive. The same applies to other imported utilities, including mobile phones, home appliances and workplace tools. Nigeria spends billions annually importing this simple technology from India and elsewhere.
With the Nigerian Content Act 2010 and the Petroleum Industry Bill, it is plausible to say that the legal framework is in place to ginger industrialists to action. Government’s effort at putting in place a policy that insists that even contracts must have local content components is commendable. However, a lot more needs to be done in the area of infrastructure. Without power, for instance, not much fabrication can take place. The nation’s iron and steel industry should be revived to spearhead the full implementation of the local content policy. Also, the National Assembly should expedite action on the PIB for it to see the light of the day.