Federal Government Calls On Chinese Investors, Others To Set Up Lithium Battery Factories In Nigeria

by J.J Olawuyi

The National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) is urging investors to work with the Agency in domesticating and producing lithium batteries locally, as well as other renewable energy sources.

Speaking today in Abuja, the Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of NASENI, Dr. Bashir Gwandu, stated that the Agency was prepared to collaborate with foreign businesses that were eager to establish their operations in Nigeria and begin local production of capital goods, such as parts for electric vehicles and renewable energy systems, that could reduce Nigeria’s reliance on imported goods that strain the country’s foreign exchange.

Dr. Gwandu stated that “NASENI is already doing a lot in the area of Solar Panel Production” while welcoming a business delegation from LEMI Technology Shenzhen, China to NASENI headquarters.

He claims that NASENI will soon bring in solar cell manufacturing to enhance its current efforts in solar panel assembly. In contrast to the customary practice of foreign corporations shipping the raw materials outside of the country for processing, he said that the Agency has met with other businesses from across the world to seek partnerships on local manufacture of lithium-based end-products in Nigeria.

He claimed that if NASENI were to implement some of its goals, such as the domestication of technologies, the production of capital goods, and the commercialization of Nigeria, it would help close the technological gap between Nigeria and other nations, prevent the importation of these technologies, and promote local production.

As an alternative to starting from scratch, he added, NASENI will collaborate with the National Automotive Design and Development Council (NADDC) to promote the development and manufacture of electric vehicles as well as the conversion of existing vehicles to electric ones. In the same vein, NASENI is also promoting the building of electric vehicle charging stations on major roadways across the nation by holding discussions with various stakeholders.

“As a result, we are asking friends from Nigeria to settle here. Those who can come and produce locally are encouraged to do so. We will assist them and see to it that the business climate is favorable, he said.

The NASENI EVC thought that by making this call, it would provide potential partners the chance to produce in Nigeria. He stated that the Federal Government “would welcome any company who gets to us first” and that the Agency was prepared to cooperate with businesses that were willing to set up plants in Nigeria for the production of lithium batteries.

Dr. Gwandu advised NASENI and LEMI Technology to determine potential areas of cooperation in the manufacture of lithium batteries and to make sure that all safety and environmental requirements are adhered to.

Dr. Gwandu expressed his delight in working out a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with LEMI Technology with a view to ensuring the safest methods of producing the lithium-based batteries, taking into consideration Nigeria environmental peculiarities. He emphasized that NASENI’s priority area is the production of lithium batteries and inverters.

The company is prepared to work with NASENI and invest in the nation, according to LEMI Technology’s founder, Ms. Joyce Chen, who also expressed her hope for a fruitful partnership with NASENI and the Nigerian government. The Chief Investment Officer, Mr. Rocky Hu; Chief Financial Officer, Ms. Biju Yao; Director of Overseas Business, Ms. Monica Liang; and Engineer, Mr. Lucia Peng, are also included in the delegation.

The Chief Executive Officer of LEMI Technology, Mr. Xie Feng, described the visit in detail and indicated his company’s commitment to collaborate with NASENI through an MOU on renewable energy, specifically with regard to goods like solar and television panels, inverters, and battery production.

He added that Nigeria, with its dense population, is important for business prospects and that there has been a long-standing kinship between Nigeria and China. According to Mr. Feng, LEMI Technology has been doing business in Nigeria since 2018 and has given locals job chances in addition to selling renewable energy goods to more than 200,000 Nigerian households.

Engineering Materials, Industrial and Analytical Chemical Materials, Scientific Equipment and Components, Engineering Equipment, Engineering Designs and Standardization, and Power Equipment are some of the broad categories of capital goods for which NASENI has a specific mandate for research, production, and reverse engineering.

One of the first projects the EVC of NASENI started after returning to work was to call some of the major lithium exporters from Nigeria and advise them to start planning to invite their counterparts who produce lithium batteries in other parts of the world to come and invest in the end-product production in Nigeria.

He urged them to take advantage of the conversation and capitalize on the first mover advantage since NASENI would support investors by promoting government legislation that would restrict the export of all lithium kinds other than those that Nigeria could not turn into an end product.

He highlighted that if other nations, like Zimbabwe, have gone to the level of processing lithium, Nigeria cannot continue to export raw lithium. According to him, Nigeria should lead the way in battery manufacture because it has access to all necessary raw materials, including phosphate.

He said that any firm that can come to Nigeria and transform the raw materials into end products will be encouraged by NASENI in any sector where NASENI can draw manufacturers, whether it be in renewable energy or other sectors like the aerospace industries. Suppliers to CATL and LEMI of China were among the companies invited to an earlier meeting on lithium.

The first delegation from LEMI of China was hosted by the EVC today in order to begin discussions about local production of various kinds of lithium batteries and other items in the photovoltaics value chain.



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