Nigeria spends N750bn annually on pencil importation
…To commence local production soon
By NGOZI OKAFOR , Abuja
Friday, March 13, 2009
Because there is no factory that produces pencils used by school children and other professionals in West African sub-region, Nigeria, therefore, spends colossal sums of money every year to import this product from other nations.
It is estimated that over N750 billion is spent on importing pencils into the country annually. Director General of Projects Development Institute, (PRODA), a parastatal of Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, Professor Godwin Onuoha, who spoke to Daily Sun at the National Council on Science and Technology held in Enugu, said that there was a dearth of school pencils for the implementation of most educational programmes of states and federal.
All school pencils and foundry crucible pots are imported, involving capital flight and industrial underdevelopment, especially foundry casting machines.
He revealed that using a number of parameters, the agency has found that a good chunk of national financial resource was spent to get this commonest but very useful product.
He said: “We have tried to really do some calculations and judging from the number of schools, our population and the possible number of pencils everybody in the country is likely to use, we are estimating that Nigeria will be spending close to 500 million dollars on pencil importation alone in a year.”
Prof. Onuoha further indicated that PRODA was now poised to commence domestication of school pencils and crucible pots production to encourage local raw materials exploitation.
“What we are trying to do in PRODA is in the course of benefication of graphite for our crucible work for the furnaces to isolate the product that can be concentrated into, and for the production of school pencils not only for school children but also for all public that will need pencil to work in any way.
“Having now been able to get the product for pencil making out of our archival benefication effort, we may soon be giving Nigerians the first batch of made in Nigeria pencils. It is in the course of benefication of this local raw material which is graphite that we isolate what is capable of being made into the pencils we know and use.”
He said subject to approval by National Council on Science and Technology, “ we have to really put this pencil into the market within the next six months and by the time we have the next council, the commercialized production activity would have really come into full blown project.”
The agency, he said, will do everything possible to ensure that this research result does not lie on the shelf, adding that they really intend to look for funds and put into practical demonstration, our ability to produce 1,000 pencils a day.
The DG further added that upon verification of the viability of this product, local entrepreneurs would be invited to come in and have the machine replicated and put into other parts of the country to help achieve the production level that would lead to elimination of importation of pencils from Nigeria’s import list.
Nigerians are the most educated ethnic group in the United States of America, and yet we cannot produce pencils.
If only ‘shame’ could be a positive word.