By Franklin Alli
The President/Chief Executive of the Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, has disclosed that Savannah Sugar Company, a subsidiary of the Group, has created 5,000 jobs in six years.
He further stated that since the group took over the Adamawa-based company, they have, so far, invested N37bn in plant rehabilitation and farm expansion.
â€œImagine what this means in any economy, rural or urban. Our journey at the Savannah Sugar Company has been a success story in many ways. This is because in 2003, we employed almost 700 people. Today, we employ up to 5,000. We estimate that we will be employing 25,000 people when we hit the 250,000 tons mark. We are proud to be the largest employer of labour in the state, after the state government,â€ said Dangote, during the Harvest Season Ceremony of the company.
According to him, the Group is on the move to replicate the feat in three other states across the nation.
â€œOn the national level, we plan to expand our activities and take our total national sugar production level to 1 million metric tons per annum by replicating our success here in other states of the nation.
â€œWe have plans to invest in 36,000 hectares in Lau, Taraba State; a 20,000 hectares farm in Hadejia, Jigawa State; and a 25,000 hectares farm in Galala, Bauchi State.
â€œOur projection is that within the next three years, both the factory and farm will be expanded to produce 250,000 metric tons of sugar per annum.â€
â€œPart of the expansion plan for increased sugar production is to incorporate a 75 megawatt cogen power plant, an ethanol processing plant and a 2000 dairy cattle farm all to be supported by various by-products from the sugar manufacturing process. Ten million tons of sugarcane will give 1.0 million tons of sugar, 300 megawatts of green electric power, enough to power the whole of North Eastern Nigeria; 100 million liters of ethanol; and 100,000 metric tons of bio-compost,â€ he stated.
He pointed out that as a socially responsible corporate organisation, the Group is actively seeking ways of giving back directly to their host communities as a means of building a symbiotic relationship that all parties benefit from.
â€œIt is in keeping with this policy that we are giving out a further 1,000 hectares over the next two years to local farmers under what is commonly known as the Out-growers Scheme. We are working with the National Sugar Development Council to make this yet another success story.
â€œUnder the scheme, we provide land and other support to the farmers by assisting with farming operations such as land clearing, irrigation, farm-implements, high quality seedlings and fertilizer. We then purchase their produce at a guaranteed price.
â€œThe price is derived using the accepted world-wide formula as set by either the World Bank or the African Development Bank, which ensures transparency. Over 1,000 families will benefit during the first phase of this scheme which translates to 5,000 people and this will be replicated in every other state where we operate.â€
Vanguard gathered that the Savannah Sugar plant was established by the Federal Government in 1971 with the aim of providing sugar for local consumption, and to help boost the economy of the North East and country at large. The factoryâ€™s capacity was 55,000tons per annum. and there was provision to expand it to 100,000tons. The company eventually started production in 1980, but the development of the production infrastructure was never fully completed. This remained the case even after the company took the ADB loan in 1993. It was in this situation that Dangote Industries Limited assumed ownership and control of the plant in the year 2003, when government decided to privatise the plant.