By Ndubuisi Micheal Obineme
Uyi Akpata is Country Senior Partner for PwC Nigeria and Regional Senior Partner for the West Market Area. He is also PwC’s Africa Oil and Gas leader with over fifteen years’ experience in the Energy and Utilities industries. He has led various engagement teams serving large multinationals including ExxonMobil, Chevron and ENI and of integrated and emerging regional Oil & Gas companies, such as Oando and Sahara Group. He has served in numerous leadership positions within the Nigeria Firm including being Head of Energy Utilities and Mining Services for Nigeria and a member of the Global Oil & Gas leadership team.
In this article, Uyi shared insights on current developments and how PwC is shaping the future of mining business in Nigeria.
For the past five years, making an investment in the Nigerian Mining Sector is paying off as the sector now has a well coordinated approach, well established foundation under the current administration which have positioned the Nigerian mining sector in the right direction. The mining policies have been put in place and people are beginning to see that there is a sustained development in the Nigerian mining sector.
More interesting, seven particular minerals have been identified and the Nigerian government is focused on exploring the minerals for the growth and development of the economy.
A reputable mining journal says Nigeria is a very attractive investment destination for mining and it is because of the frameworks that has been put in place.
PwC is a major player in the Nigerian solid mineral sector in a way of contributing to the development of the economy and to build trust in the society that will resolve complex problems. As we all know developing the sector has been a complex problem for many years.
In the past years, we invested in top leadership, engaging with PWC network organizations in Australia, Canada, South Africa, Ghana, using them as case studies and bringing best practices to integrate into Nigerian mining sector.
PwC has developed quite a number of top leadership engagement by bringing local knowledge with international experience which was shared with the Honourable Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, when he came on board about two years ago.
The minister picked our recommendations as it was instrumental in building the foundation and understanding the mining sector. Shortly after, the minister attended the Africa Mining Indaba in South Africa where we hosted a forum for government officials. Ultimately, it hasn’t been the same since then and we are glad to be part of it.
Two years ago, when i took over the leadership as the Country Senior Partners of PwC, there are lot of things that was done such as quick wins in the oil and gas industry, work for already established clients and meet the revenue numbers but it isn’t the overall mandate. One of the terms they give us as Country Senior Partners is how well do you influence a society and make a difference.
In this note, we decided to make an investment in the mining sector because it is like a debt which you might not know when it will end but if you are really influencing the sector as we have done, you will be glad when things begin to happen.
The most instrumental part of our work, we engage directly with the Honourable Minister and his team. During our meetings with the minister, we were able to identify the challenges of which some are still existing now such as the ownership between the Federal and State government in terms of title or ownership of lands and the mineral rights.
Waiting for constitutional reforms will not solve the problem, but if it is clearly stated that each stakeholder will benefit then you can have a commonality between stakeholders in the sector as it will be in the best interest of everyone whether the communities, state government in terms of revenue, federal government in terms of attracting overall investment.
PwC was part of the committee members and contributor in articulating the Roadmap for the Growth and Development of the Nigerian Mining Industry. We make sure that we implemented the best practices for the sector, it was very instrumental. We presented an independent view to be sure that all stakeholders are carried along. Once we identify any challenges, we make notes and our next step is investing on what we think that will bring solution.
Mining isn’t a miracle like agriculture but if you don’t set a good foundation and structures, there will not be any development in the sector. With the new roadmap of the Nigerian Solid Mineral Sector, it will begin to materialize within some years from now.
Another challenge is the issue of illegal miners, it is the fastest way of bringing the young people out of employment. There should be an arrangement and structures that will cover the illegal miners so that when the big industry players come fully into the sector, there should be an avenue of accommodating the illegal miners.
Furthermore, the illegal miners should be informed through various engagement and giving them the opportunity to do the mining business under a more robust and sustainable condition. It is a way of including them under the platform of the large companies but isn’t going to be different from the arrangements we have in the agric sector where you have clusters of small farmers teaming up with large farmers in terms of their supply chain.
For instance, if the miner is earning twenty thousand naira monthly under hazardous condition, but, in a more structured manner, they will even earn more when working under a robust and sustainable condition.
The ‘Ease of Doing Business’ led by the Vice President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osibanjo have contributed to the mining sector. People are beginning to see the benefits and impact on the ‘Ease of Doing Business’ in Nigeria whether is the mining sector, agric sector, telecom sector etc..
A lot of transformation have been going-on in the mining sector within the last two years and international agency such as World Bank and other investment groups are coming together to invest in the solid mineral sector of Nigeria. Though, there are more things to be done, it is a marathon and we will just be seeing easy learning steps. We have gone a long way from where we are two years ago.