Local Paper Production: Senate Sets Paper Mill Revival in Motion

The Senate House today, concluded plans to reawaken the dead papermill industry to curtail importation of papers which has been an embarrassment on the economy of the country. The motion “Need to Revive the Moribund Paper Mills in Nigeria” was this morning presented by Senator Stephen Ekpeyong (PDP, Akwa Ibom). The Senate resolved to urge the Chartered Institute of Professional Printers of Nigeria (CIPPON) and the Nigeria Customs Service to make an upward review of duties on importation of published books and importation of paper as raw materials into the country, and make it favourable for local publishers and paper mills to print locally in Nigeria.

Senator Ekpeyong observed that the three notable paper mills in Nigeria were privatised by the FG but all of them are now moribund, forcing the country to depend on imported papers. This also led to massive unemployment and huge revenue loss to the Federal Government. The senator called on the Federal Government of Buhari to begin an investigation on the matter of these paper mills who were in production before they were privatised.

The moribund paper mills are:

1. Nigeria Paper Mill (NPM) in Jebba, Kwara State
2. Nigeria Newsprint Manufacturing Company (NNMC) in Oku-Iboku, Akwa Ibom State
3. Nigeria National Paper Manufacturing Company (NNPMC) in Ogun State.

Observers say the mills were sold in not transparent ways, to people whose interests were more in importation of raw materials, than galvanising local sources of the raw materials.

Paper raw materials importation is an embarrassment on the economy of Nigeria. The country, according to Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) spends at least ₦50 billion on the importation of papers every year. The Council observed that Nigeria is losing about ₦180 billion from non-performance of the three paper mills in the country.

The three mills mentioned above were privatised under the administration of Olusegun Obasanjo, in the mid-2000s. The major reason behind their privatisation was the lack of funds to import raw materials for the mills. According to RMRDC, fibre trees such as g-melina, which is an essential raw material, were in very short supply. Although the Nigeria Paper Mill in Jebba experienced a facelift in 2009, it has yet to reach expected level of production.

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