Cementing trans-border ties with pan-African investments
Changing the narrative of economic development requires the emergence of home-grown pan-African companies that will help to transform and integrate the continent through cross-border investments as well as reduce poverty rate. With an expansion plan that sees his company increasing cement manufacturing footprint across the continent, Dangote’s Congo cement plant is set to change the game in Brazzaville. FEMI ADEKOYA writes.
With a sustained growth profile in Nigeria, the need to extend its presence to sub-regional markets in Africa has become a driving force for Dangote Cement Plc after it commenced operations in its new plant in Mfila, Congo.
Beyond market penetration and expansion, the goal is to create greater integration of African economies to enable the continent to develop free trade among African Union member nations.
According to Dangote, there is a need for Africa to create over 10 million jobs yearly to cater for its growing youth population and to achieve this; opportunities in the regional markets have to be harnessed by home-grown pan-African companies.
Unveiling its 1.5 MTPA Green Field cement plant in Congo-Brazzaville l last week, the $300 million-investment by Dangote has been described as one of the biggest foreign direct investments by an African company in the country indicating the firm’s strong belief in the future growth of the African economy.
According to Dangote Cement, Africa’s quest for self-sufficiency in quality cement is on course as indicated in its stakes in cement manufacturing plants in Zambia through Tanzania, Nigeria, South Africa, Congo (Brazzaville), Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Liberia and Senegal to Ghana.
With these cement factories and others now either completed or at a high point of development, Dangote Cement company is believed to have hedged itself against foreign exchange challenges slowly finding a foothold in Nigeria’s economic space.Congolese President, Mr. Denis Sassou Nguesso while inaugurating the plant said the investment was an industrial revolution, sort of, within the Economic Community of the Central African States (CEMAC), saying his country was happy to host the investment.
According to him, his government has observed the operations of Dangote cement in other African countries and it has helped buoyed their economies by sparking off other allied industries expressed the hope that Congo situation would not be an exception.
The Congolese President described the coming on stream of the Dangote cement as timely and encouraging because it starting operations at a time the total government revenues have plummeted by 31.3 percent and revenues from the oil sector have fallen 65.1 percent since 2015 due to a slide in global crude prices.
President Mohammadu Buhari who was represented at the event by a delegation led by the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi commended Alhaji Aliko Dangote and his Cement Company for championing economic renaissance of Africa with the construction of cement plants across several African countries saying the sterling accomplishment makes the Dangote Cement brand, and indeed Aliko Dangote himself, worthy ambassadors of Nigeria.
President Buhari said his government has consistently supported and encouraged the Dangote Group in its quest to contribute its quota to the economic emancipation of the African continent, which is blessed with a plethora of natural resources.
“I believe that it is only home-grown practical solutions that can address the myriad issues plaguing Africa today and one of such challenges that Africa has been grappling with for decades, is infrastructure deficit. I am confident that massive investments in cement production, which is a key driver of infrastructural development, will contribute in no small measure, to addressing this perennial problem. “
Chairman of Dangote Cement Plc, Aliko Dangote said his company was delighted to have completed the plant on schedule saying the addition of Dangote Cement’s 1.5 million metric tonnes per annum plant has more than doubled the total cement production capacity of Congo-Brazzaville, which now stands at 2.550 million metric tonnes per annum, far in excess of national demand.
“It is envisaged that this will contribute substantially to the availability and affordability of cement in the country and the Republic of the Congo will no longer need to depend on imports to bridge the gap between demand and supply.
“It is our hope that the inauguration of the plant will boost Congo’s economy, conserve foreign exchange that would otherwise have been spent on imports for the country, and create employment opportunities down the value chain.”, he stated.
Dangote commended the Congolese government noting that the bold economic reform measures put in place by President Denis Sassou Nguesso administration have been quite salutary. “The construction industry, which is a major sector of the economy, is a beneficiary of his policies, and has been receiving the attention of investors. We believe that our investment will contribute to Congo-Brazzaville’s current economic renaissance under the leadership of the President Nguesso.”
The Company Chairman pointed out that his organization received tremendous support and encouragement both from the government and the people of Congo-Brazzaville, right from the conceptualisation stage of our project, to its final completion, and commissioning.
Dangote disclosed that without waiting to stabilise production, the Cement company had already commenced CSR projects with the construction of a road with a length of 30km around Yamba, which would have cost the local government approximately 240 million CFA to execute.
He stated further “we have also disbursed scholarships for students and we are also building a school and renovating a hospital within our host communities. Apart from these, we have repaired a dilapidated bridge on a major highway at a cost of $300,000, to enable heavy duty vehicles to cross the bridge. As a policy, we also ensure that we give priority to qualified indigenes from our local host communities in our recruitment drive.”
Dangote told the gathering that Dangote Cement total production capacity across Africa at the end of May 2017, stood at 45.8 million metric tonnes per annum, making it one of the biggest cement producers on the continent adding that the aspiration is to rank among the top 10 cement producers in the world by 2020.
Dangote cement commissioned its cement plants in four African countries namely: Ethiopia, Zambia, Cameroun and Tanzania. The Congo-Brazzaville plant, which began operations in the third quarter of 2017, will be the fifth cement plant that would be inaugurated in the last two years.
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