Nigerian business mogul Abdoul Samad Rabiu is studying the Rwandan and regional mining sector for viable opportunities.
Rabiu is Chairman of BUA Group which has interest in cement production, sugar refinery, edible oil production and ports among other investments. Rabiu has been listed as one of the richest Africans with his wealth estimated at over $1.6B.
His group recently held its board meeting in Kigali a move which he says was aiming at drawing inspiration from the country’s leadership.
Rabiu said that having grown the firm in West Africa, they are now considering expanding out to the rest of the continent especially in the advent of increased integration and growth of business opportunities.
He said that that they were studying Rwanda and East African region with chances of investment.
“We are definitely looking at expanding. Rwanda is definitely a good ground for investment. There has been very strong economic growth, you have is very good leadership, infrastructure is coming in and there is a development strategy. There is so much opportunity here,” he said.
He said that his interest in the mining sector is to ensure sustainable and valuable practices that create more value in the continent as opposed to exporting raw materials.
He noted that over 76 per cent of mining operations in Africa are by western firms who often do little to work with local communities or process them from the continent.
This he said has seen more value retained abroad as opposed to Africa where the minerals are extracted.
“Mining is a big opportunity. There are lots of resources and opportunities in the region. There ought to be sustainable mining practices on the continent,” he said.
He said that way, the sector can provide better quality jobs, play a role in industrialization, as well as improve the quality of life on the continent.
On why he decided to host his board meeting in Kigali, he said that it was to identify more with the country and its leadership.
“We love the country, we love its leadership and want to identify with the good leadership of the President. We need more of such leadership on the continent if we are to develop,” he said.
According to Rwanda Development Board, there are multiple investment opportunities in the Rwandan mining sector with investment ranging between $15M to $120M.
Among the opportunities include Wolframite processing, Lithium mining, Gold mining, Tin, Tungsten and Tantalum mining, Gemstone cutting and polishing as well as Tantalum processing among others.
The Rwandan mining sector is gradually growing as the government has moved to attract large investments in the sector to modernize operations and value addition of the minerals.
The government has targets of exports revenues of growing mining exports receipts to $800m by 2020 and $1.5bn by 2024.
Rabiu also told Business Times that he fully supports the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement despite Nigeria not having signed. He said that it presents an opportunity for the continent to reduce trade deficit, increase production and become industrialized. He noted that he hesitance of a section of Nigerians to warm up to the agreement could be due to experience with similar agreements within their region which have failed to become operational or effected.
He also called for inclusion of the continental private sector in African initiatives such as infrastructure projects saying that most of them would make better partners than Western partners often sought.