BY UDEME CLEMENT
Mr. Tunde MabogunjeÂ is the General Manager, Sales and Marketing, Dangote Pasta Limited, a subsidiary of Dangote Group. HeÂ speaks, in this interview, on his companyâ€™sÂ production capacity and what the Federal Government can do to revamp the manufacturing sector.
The company has been in the business of producing spaghetti/macaroni for almost a decade now. We realised that people daily eat foodÂ without sufficient mineral contents to build the immune system ofÂ the body.
That informed the decision of the company to embark on a blind sampling taste to come up with an improved pasta product that is fortified with necessary vitamins and minerals needed for healthy growth for consumers of all ages.
The initiative to produce something unique took us about 12months and taste sample was accepted by consumers in different locations across the country, before we introduced the new product known as Pasta Actilease, that has just been launched into the market.
What is your production capacity at the moment?
At the moment, we are already producing over 480 metric tonnes daily and our target is to hit 680 metric tonnes, which is about14 trucks and with the macaroni, we are going to have approximately 20 trucks daily before end of this year. And we are also going to introduce three more brands of macaroni into the market before June this year.
The distribution chain has already been taken care of by the company because we have fashioned out the best and fastest methods to transfer the new products to different states in Nigeria.
Our mission is to add value to our customers at no extra cost. We are expanding our operations to meet the demands of customers and ultimately our consumers. We must continue to maintain international best practices which has earned us NIS/ISO award for systems quality from Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON).
If you are saying the new product would not attract extra charges, how are you going to improve your margin in order to stay afloat in business?
The production of the new brand is funded by our sister company and the initiative basically is to improve dietary value for the consumers. That is why we are not going to increase the price to put the cost on them.
So far, how many jobs have you created, and how many of your employees are Nigerians?We operate an open system in compliance with the labour laws ofÂ the country. Right now, we have 752 staff and only one out of this number is an expatriate.
The manufacturing sector is going through a difficult time now, due to lack of infrastructure and conducive operating environment. What do you think government must do to reposition the sector for greater productivity?
The major issue is that of erratic supply of electricity, which is affecting the industry and everyone in the country. In Dangote Pasta, for instance, we run 70 per cent of our operations on generators to ensure we meet our target daily. We have eight heavy duty generators that we are using to generate our own power, because we must continue to do business. Government should tackle the power crisis pragmatically to find a lasting solution to the problem.
Recently, Dangota Cement, your sister company, ahead of schedule paid $1.28billion facility loan obtained from a consortium of 10 Nigerian banks, in May 2008 to finance his cement project at Ibese in Ogun State. WhatÂ informed such decision, or was your company afraid of the on-going shake-up in the banking sector, or being hunted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commissions (EFCC)?
The company hadÂ utilised the loan for a certain period before paying it back. So, it does not matter whether it paid the moneyÂ ahead of time, as long as it did not default in the terms of agreement. Dangote Group ownsÂ Benue Cement and other plants that are doing very well, which management believes should be able to fund Ibese project. In that case, there was no need keeping the loan.