THE STATUS OF PRIVATISED PULP AND PAPER MILLS IN NIGERIA: CHALLENGES AND PROSPECTS
Nigerian Journal of Forestry, 49 (2) 105 - 111
Noah, A. S. and Ogunsanwo, O. Y. (2019)
Despite the huge capital investment in the establishment of three integrated pulp and paper mills in Nigeria, the Nigeria paper industry has not performed to its optimal level expected of it by the planners. The three primary paper producers namely, the Nigerian Paper Mill (NPM), Jebba, the Nigerian Newsprint Manufacturing Company (NNMC), Oku-Iboku and the Iwopin Pulp and Paper Company (IPPC) Limited, Iwopin, even after their privatization, are presently moribund and some are in comatose state. This paper examines the status of these privatised paper mills, x-rays the challenges militating against their optimal operability and suggests strategies as pathways towards a virile resuscitation of the paper industry in Nigeria. NPM, Jebba with an expanded annual production capacity of 65,000 metric tons for both industrial and writing paper had its peak production of 42,960 metric tons in 1986, representing 66.1% capacity utilisation. NNMC, Oku-Iboku, designed for 100,000 metric tons of newsprint yearly recorded a peak production level of 37,580 metric tons in 1990, corresponding to 37.6% capacity utilisation. IPPC, Iwopin, designed to produce 60,000 metric tons per annum of fine cultural grade of writing and printing paper could only managed a peak output of 4,750 metric tons in 1996, recording an abysmal capacity utilisation of 7.9%. The above scenario shows that large-scale based paper sector has failed in Nigeria. Hence, the need for re-structure of the pulp and paper sector, and to leverage on the promotion of small-scale paper mills due to their low capital outlay. Over-dependence on foreign management and technical expertise, dependence on imported production inputs, obsolete plant machinery and industrial equipment are cited as some of the challenges facing these mills. Strategies for mill resuscitation include friendly economic policies by government for investment sustainability, intensive afforestation projects on locally sourced fibre resources and engagement of only core investors and technical partners with proven knowledge and technical experience in operational management of paper mills.