‘$408b global ceramics market beckons on Nigeria’

Friday, 02 February 2018

In 2012, WinterGreen Research, an independent research organisation, announced a new study on Ceramics Market Shares, Strategy and Forecasts Worldwide–2012 to 2018. According to the study, global markets are poised to grow steadily as developing countries’ population creates middle class, encouraging the demand for ceramic products. The lead author of the study, Susan Eustis, says the forecast indicates that the $279 billion ceramics trade will reach $408 billion this year. However, the Ceramics Researchers Association of Nigeria (CeRAN ) says Nigeria needs to do more to meet its market share of the target. OKWY IROEGBU-CHIKEZIE reports

Experts have argued that the quest for diversification and capital inflow from non-oil sector can be realised if the nation taps into the huge potential in ceramics manufacturing.

Ceramic products, such as crockery (plates, dishes and other items) and sanitary wares, apart from their decorative look, are primarily hygienic. This is also one of the main reasons for their wide usage in bathrooms and kitchens in households, medical centres, laboratories, milk booths, schools and public conveniences, among others.

All these make it attractive as a huge foreign exchange earner for the country. But, in all these, Nigerian ceramics manufacturers seem not ready to meet their share of the global market projection of $408 billion by the end of the year.

Ceramic Researchers Association of Nigeria (CeRAN) President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Epina Technologies Limited, Prof. Patrick Oaikhinan, told The Nation that ceramics manufacturers have unfortunately focused mainly on narrow area of the sector, adding that it will not give them the needed edge to meet the projected increased demand that would yield the projected amount by the end of the year.

To a former Deputy Director in charge of solid minerals, ceramics and electroplating technologies at the Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi (FIIRO), Mr. Patrick Sonny Irabor,  there is a huge opportunity in ceramics business awaiting the nation and  that 85 per cent of the raw materials that would be needed could be obtained locally.

Prospects of the sector

For Oaikhinan, the emergence of West Africa as a manufacturing hub for the ceramic industry as a result of the growing construction sector, is expected to have a positive impact on the market.  According to him, low manufacturing cost, compared to countries in North America and Europe, have forced numerous ceramic manufacturers to commence production in West Africa, adding that in December 2013, West African Ceramics Limited made an investment of over $50 million to begin production of ceramic tiles in Nigeria.

His words: “Construction industry growth in bricks, with rising demand for new residential structures in the emerging markets of China and India due to urbanisation, are expected to drive market demand for ceramic tiles over the forecast period. Asia-Pacific was the largest ceramic tile market, exceeding 60 per cent of global volume in 2013.

“The governments of India and China have increased spending on infrastructure improvement, which is expected to promote the demand for residential and commercial structures and boost the ceramic tiles market over the forecast period.”

The global construction industry is growing rapidly with a major contribution from emerging countries. In 2016, the revenue generated by the global construction industry reached approximately $8.82 trillion from $7.91trillion in 2012. The revenue is expected to reach approximately $14.98 trillion by 2025. The emerging countries accounted for 51.9 per cent of the total construction industry in 2016 and estimated to contribute approximately 62.5 per cent by 2025. The governments of these regions are investing significantly in residential homes, owing to the rapid urbanisation in lieu of jobs, better lifestyle and other amenities.

Underscoring the huge revenue sources of ceramics, Prof Oaikhinan gave figures to buttress the fact that ceramics is a huge foreign exchange earner.

He pointed out that for decades economists have created models to determine what best drives economic growth in an attempt to help policy makers know where best to focus their efforts. Creative thinkers have reasoned that computer training, foreign languages, sports schools and provisional work agencies could help to reduce unemployment and generate wealth in Nigerian economy while Ceramics manufacturing business is conspicuously absent.

Emphasising the importance of ceramics, Irabor stressed that without ceramics, there would not be the convenient employment of electricity, the production of the highest grade of steel and that most other products of the furnace would be impossible. According to him, there will be no bricks or tiles, the production of corrosive chemicals, the use of crucibles for refining purposes would remain unknown. In short, a modern industry state without the many diverse forms of pottery is almost inconceivable.

He said the manufacture of ceramics will encourage reactivation of dead factories, establishment of new industries, improve the exploration and appropriate utilisation of the nation’s abundant natural solid mineral resources.

He also stressed that it would create industrial activities, employment generation and economic empowerment of the citizenry, while the huge import dependence of ceramic products would be reduced. “The development and investment in this non-metallic solid mineral-based sector would go towards the much talked-about diversification of the mono-oil economy,” he added.

“The prospects for ceramics and glazes in Nigeria are phenomenal as they stand to accelerate development. In today’s world, pottery has grown through development in science, technology and engineering to assume a formidable role in the modern and space age of man,” he stated.


Concerning the challenges in the sector, Oaikhinan said prior to 1980s several ceramic industries such as   Richware Ceramics (Lagos); Modern Ceramics (Umuahia); Nigergrob Ceramics (Abeokuta); Ceramic Manufacturer (Kano) and Quality Ceramics (Shagamu), among others, were enjoying booming businesses.

He, however, lamented that they are all moribund, noting that  only four local ceramic manufacturing industries that are still producing  and their products are mainly tiles and sanitary wares.

He said: “These industries are producing below installed capacity because of shortages of professionals with generic and technical skills in ceramics manufacturing business. There is also the absence of avenues for people that are interested in ceramic manufacturing business to pursue their ambitions, just as there is the absence of training programmes in ceramic science, engineering and technology in our universities or polytechnics. There are equally lack of knowledge of the chemical and mineralogical compositions, and non-existence of raw material processing plants to feed the local ceramic industries.”

He canvassed the strengthening of ceramic entrepreneurship in Nigeria, arguing that it is the golden highway to economic democracy.

For Irabor, the challenges facing ceramics and its glaze component manufacturing in Nigeria are enormous. There are a number of critical factors necessary for the development and growth of ceramic and glaze technology and their manufacture in Nigeria. “Such factors are many and they varied from the government policy framework, financial structures, politics, expertise, manpower, technology, to availability of appropriate raw materials,” Irabor said.

According to him, available skilled manpower in this sector is either being frustrated into changing into other profession or is redundant, leaving the stage for pseudo-experts in ceramics.

In the area of equipment, he observed that the nation’s machinery and system building capabilities are very low and the sad situation has reflected in the level of production, huge import bill, poor maintenance culture and high failure rate of industrial projects. With particular reference to ceramic manufacturing in Nigeria, the dependence on imported machinery, remains high as the most vital systems must be imported, maintained and operated efficiently for a sustainable production process.

The way forward

The way forward lies in charting a positive course to revert the current situation to reduce import dependence, create employment opportunities, improve living standard and reduce poverty just by exploiting and utilising our natural solid mineral resources, Oaikhinan said.

More appropriately, through adequate funding of Research & Development (R&D), manpower development and general capability building in the non-metallic mineral and ceramic sectors, the situation would substantially improve, he added.

For decades, economists have created models to determine what best drives economic growth, in an effort to help policy makers know where best to focus their efforts. “Creative thinkers have reasoned that computer training, foreign languages, sports schools and provisional work agencies could help to reduce unemployment and generate wealth in Nigerian economy,” Oaikhinan said.

Source : thenationonlineng.net

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