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What Next After SMMRP?

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The Sustainable Management of Mineral Resources Project (SMMRP) is set to round off its activities in May, 2012, but an alternative source of funding has not been established. Ruth Tene looks at the achievements of the project in the past six years.

So much has been achieved within a short period of time in the solid minerals sector with the support of the Sustainable Management of Mineral Resources Project (SMMRP) in terms of human capacity development, supply of office furnishings and equipment as well as the coordination of various cooperatives into organised formal sector.

The SMMRP, a credit line of  $120 million was drawn from the World Bank /IDA by the federal government as part of efforts aimed at developing the non-oil sources of revenue. The credit has an interest free concession with a 35-year tenure and 10-year moratorium set to end by May 2012.

With the expiration just by the corner, it is expected that the government would be  able to create an alternative source of funding or stretch the line of credit which presently has not been done. But in the meantime, what has been achieved by the SMMRP in its six years of existence?
The credit was taken  as part of government’s emphasis on developing non-oil sector to diversify the economy.Other reasons adduced include also  the need to tap the potentials of Nigeria’s vast solid mineral resources for industrial  minerals resources and increase the nation’s GDP, in addition to  creating non-farm wealth  through artisanal and small scale mining
Government’s commitment to establishing a conducive socio- economic regulatory and fiscal environment favourable to the development of the domestic private sector capable of attracting foreign investors, as well as the creation of conditions for rapid private sector- led poverty reducion programme was also advanced.

Over the past six years, the SMMRP has been able to promote  an investor- friendly Minerals and Mining Act  which was passed into law in 2011 by the National Assembly, it has also established a mining cadastre office and equipped it for transparent and efficient grant management of mineral titles.

Among other achievements of the SMMRP are the alteration and modification of the ministry’s Headquartres in Abuja as well as zonal offices in Jos, Sokoto , Kano and Kaduna States. 

Over the years, the SMMRP has provided field vehicles and technical equipment for the ministry and its agencies, trained over 10,000 Nigerians including private operators, developed selected minerals for import substitution and provided livelihood  in mining communities.

Most popular of the services rendered by the SMMRP was the disbursement of $10million which was earmarked as grant fund under a small grant programme to support the operations and activities of artisanal miners and host mining communities across the country.It is recorded that over a hundred and thirty three mining cooperatives and communities have so far benefitted from the programme.
In an exclusive telephone interview with  coordinator of the SMMRP, Linus Adie, he maintained that the project may fold-up in May as government has done nothing or said nothing to compel the extension of the credit beyond the stipulated time.

According to him, government has the power to request for an extension of the project’s services from the World Bank, but so far, it has been  so complacent.  The Task Team Leader of the SMMRP, Ms. Ekaterina Mikhaylovak, while on a visit to the country to ascertain the implementation of the project, addressed issues of financial management and initiated the process for the successful completion of the project by May 2012.

During her visit, she said  that the World Bank was impressed with the ongoing efforts of the federal government to develop mining as another major line of income generating activity other than oil, but was concerned about the ways government would sustain the gains made by the project after the completion date.
Consequently, she conducted field trips to project activities around the country to see how to fast- track the execution of existing commitments and accelerate disbursements, ahead of the closing date.

Among projects visited was the Nigerian Institute of Mining Geoscientists (NIMG) which at that time was preparing to graduate its inaugural set of students and had made certain requests to the team to equip the institute before the expiration date.

Also speaking in an exclusive interview with LEADERSHIP yesterday, Provost of the Institute, Professor Idowu Odeyemi, assured that the project management unit (PMU) had done impressively in meeting certain requirements of the institute, while still hoping that equipment requested  would be purchased and installed before the deadline of the project.
Mikhaylovak, specifically speaking on the  state-of- the-art laboratory equipment of the National Geosciences Laboratory(NGS) Kaduna,  said the bank was concerned with its sustainability and suggested that government should consider the outsourcing of the management of the laboratory as an exit strategy.

She wanted the government through the SMMRP to come up with a business plan that would ensure commercial viability, sustainability, global acceptability through ISO (International Standard Organisation) Certification.

Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr Musa Mohammed Sada, had severally called for the creation of the Solid Minerals Development Fund (SMDF) as a substitute means of funding  the sector to augment the annual budget which stakeholders  described as inadequate especially in view of the fact that it takes a lot of money to run  the sector.

In an earlier statement, the minister had assured that Nigeria was to set up a sustainable development fund to further develop the mining sector in order to cushion the effect of expansion. But,so far, the development fund has remained a dream in the pipelines.

As the SMMRP rounds off activities in the sector, the questions yet to be answered are, with the absence of a continual credit line from the World Bank and the yet to be created development fund, how does the ministry intend to supplement funds for the sector, considering the low budgetary allocation? What will become of the project’s office? What arrangements have been made for the outsourcing of the laboratory in Kaduna among many other questions?

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Updated 7 Years ago

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