The Federal Government has praised the Dangote Group for its firm belief in Nigeria as demonstrated by the massive investments that it has made in the country over the years.
Mr.Olusegun Aganga, the Minister of Finance, gave the commendation during a facility visit to the Obajana Cement Plant, the largest cement plant in sub_Saharan Africa and one of the subsidiaries of the Dangote Group, at the weekend.
According to him “you have proven that we can do it as a country.What we need to do more is to showcase some of our success stories like Dangote’s so that the world can appreciate our industrialists.”
The Minister, who noted that the backward integration policy of the government provided the spur for industrial growth, said it will continue to explore the right policies to take industrialisation to new heights in the country. While acknowledging the challenges that manufacturers face, he assured that the government is working towards addressing them.
Aganga particularly expressed delight that the Dangote Group and other local cement manufacturers would be in a position to start exporting the product as from 2012, as they would have more than enough capacity to meet domestic consumption by next year.
“Once you become a net exporter, it will save foreign exchange for the country,” he said.
While conducting the Minister and his entourage on a tour of some of the plant’s key facilities, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, President and Chief Executive of the Dangote Group, said the company is exploring more uses for cement such as for the production of concrete for road construction due to its durability when compared to bitumen, to maximize this excess capacity. He also said this initiative had become necessary because the level of cement consumption in Nigeria is still very low at about 100 kg per person, when compared to more than 400 kg per person in countries such as South Africa, Senegal and Ghana.
By July 2011, he explained, Dangote Cement concerns in Nigeria alone would have a total capacity of 20 million tonnes, while accounting for more than 50 per cent of the entire market share. He said Dangote’s Cement Terminals at Apapa in Lagos and Port Harcourt in Rivers State, are being repositioned to explore opportunities in the export trade.
“We can stop total imports today and we will be able to meet local needs,” he said. The more imports come in the less we can evacuate our products from our plants.”
In his presentation to the minister and his entourage, which also included the Minister of State for Finance, Hajia Yabawa Wabi, Engr. Joseph Makoju, Special Adviser to Dangote on Cement, said Dangote is expanding its production facilities to meet growing demand and to consolidate on its market leadership. The MD and the CEO of Obajana Cement and other top management of the Dangote Group were also part of the entourage.