The Nigerian government has sold 21 percent of its stake in the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company Limited Plc. (NSPMC) to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). The formal signing of the instrument for the transfer of shares, which will contribute a net sum of over N17 billion ($47 million) to the treasury, was witnessed by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa on Tuesday.
Explaining why the Nigerian government divested its 21 percent interest in NSPMC, the vice president said: “Security printing has taken new dimensions, it is no longer what it used to be.
“There are new assets, new dimensions and new ideas, and it’s just the private sector that can really be at the cutting edge of technology and innovation,” Osinbajo said.
The vice president, who is also the Chairman of the National Council on Privatization (NCP) noted that more than 140 publicly-owned companies have been privatized in the past 30 years, due to the government’s commitment to bringing in the needed expertise to such companies.
“Government should stick to its regulatory role and its incentivizing role and allow the private sector to do business, allow the private sector to take the risk where possible,” he said.
The NSPMC was founded in 1963 as a partnership between the Nigerian government and British banknote manufacturer and security printer De La Rue, a company founded in 1821. De La Rue is the technical partner to CBN in the deal. Osinbajo expects the two entities to add the much needed innovative edge in the NSPMC.
Nigeria produced part of its currency abroad until recently when the capacity of NSPMC increased. Central Bank Governor Godwin Emefiele says the company now has the capacity to produce currency for not just Nigeria but also for the whole of West Africa. It is also equipped to produce sensitive security documents for governments and private companies.
“The capacity of the mint has increased and expanded and it now produces all the currency that is needed in the country;” Emefiele said.
“We intend to embark on aggressive marketing to see to it that not only produces for itself but also produces for other important stakeholders that may require its services in the area of currency printing.
The central bank governor also added that work is ongoing to ensure the security printing company will start producing the Nigerian Passport, which is currently being produced by Malaysian company Iris Corporation through its Nigerian subsidiary Iris Smart Technology Nigeria Limited.
In South Africa, the rand is printed by the South African Bank Note Company located in capital city Pretoria. The country’s Passport is also printed locally. In Kenya as well, passports are printed locally, currency too. However, the Kenyan Shilling is printed by a foreign company De La Rue through its local subsidiary. The company is the CBN’s technical partner on Nigeria’s currency printing company. Its Kenyan subsidiary is now 40 percent owned by the government of Kenya.