Nigeria imports ceramic products worth $900 million annually. Ceramic tiles imports account for over $500 million of the import, and are projected to reach $2.1 billion by 2025.
A Professor of Ceramics Engineering, Patrick Oaik-hinan, gave the figure on the sideline of the launch of Oaikhinan Ceramics Foundation in Lagos, to improve ceramic penetration and skills upscale in the country.
He lamented that despite her growth potential for ceramics, Nigeria’s ceramics import bill remained huge, attributing this to erosion of the vibrancy of ceramics manufacturing in the country.
According to him, this was witnessed in the 1950s and 1980s when five international ceramic manufacturing companies located in different parts of the country went moribund.
He listed the companies to include Richware Ceramics, Modern Ceramics, Nigergrob Ceramics, Ceramic Manufacturer, and Quality Ceramics.
Oaikhinan said the shift of focus by successive administrations to crude oil production sounded the death knell on the ceramic industries.
He said: “Currently, there are nine operating ceramic companies in Nigeria, eight for tiles and one for sanitary ware, and they operate under various capacities.
“Ceramics (ROYAL) is the oldest major manufacturer of ceramic tiles and is closely followed by PNT.
“The average production capacity is 40,000-45,000 square meter per day for the eight manufacturing companies combined.
“I thank the Chinese for 100 per cent investment in six out of the eight ceramic tile companies, and the Indian with investment support for the remaining two tiles companies.”
Oaikhinan said ceramics play an important role in the sustainable industrialisation of any nation because of its strategic applications in numerous industrial sectors such as building and construction, aviation, automobile, defence and security.
He, however, lamented that the pace of technological change and inadequate skills caught the ceramic industry in Nigeria unaware.
The expert canvassed for employees with generic and technical skills to create innovative ceramics manufacturing in Nigeria.
He said the foundation was set up as a dynamic, charity-driven organisation to provide valuable resources and support for individuals, government, schools and organisations with an abiding interest in the ceramic education and manufacturing business.
Oaikhinan said he resolved years ago to work hard to create opportunity for young people in Nigeria to get scholarships for ceramic education.
His words: “It’s our obligation to leave them (young people) with a country where they can build their lives. If we all rise to use our opportunity, our hope for this country in the years to come will be realised.
“We want Nigeria to be the sturdiest rock that our children will build a better world. The foundation is important to us because we want to empower youths, particularly young girls that make up 51 per cent of employees in ceramic business, to become ceramic entrepreneurs.
“We also want to support faculty members to become advocates in their institutions for ceramic education in Nigeria.
“This Foundation is an opportunity to deliver our youths from criminal tendencies, give them a career that will make them contributing members to our national economic growth.”