Nigerian President Umar Yar'Adua has lifted the ban on the importation of bagged cement into the country, which was imposed by the government of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
The ban was intended to aid local cement companies fight competition.
Minister of Commerce and Industry Charles Ugwuh, who announced the decision at a stakeholders’ meeting in Abuja on Monday, said the ban had caused a deficit of 11.5 million tons of cement in the last few years.
He said the president was concerned about the shortage of cement in a market where the demand is estimated at about 18 million.
He also said the government was willing to reach agreement with the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) to liberalize trade under the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPAs).
"In terms of market opening, we do have a tremendous opportunity for all of you producers in Nigeria, mainly because the whole of ECOWAS is, indeed, and could indeed, depend on Nigeria from Mauritania to Cameroon as far down as Angola given the speed of expansion taking place in the oil industry in their country and in the building of infrastructure,” he said.