By Jude Njoku

Nigerians who have been groaning under the heavy yoke of high cost of building materials, particularly cement, may soon heave a sigh of relief if hopes raised at the commissioning of the multi- million dollar Dangote Cement Plant at Ibese, a limestone-rich town in Ogun state, is anything to go by.

The six million metric tonnes per annum capacity plant, according to the President/Chief Executive of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, will, apart from substantially boosting the supply of cement in the Nigerian market, also help to stabilise supply and ultimately bring down the price of the product.

“All our Nigerian plants combined already give us a figure of over 20 million metric tonnes per annum capacity, making us a power house in cement production in Africa. We are not resting on our oars as plans have been completed for a five million metric tonnes per annum Line 4 at Obajana which will take the capacity to 15.25mtpa.

“The aggressive expansion of our local production capacity of our plants is to ensure there is always adequate capacity to meet local demand and export so that this country never again has to import cement to meet her requirements,” he said.

Dangote who gave an account of the successes recorded by his Group since he ventured into cement production, explained that the Gboko plant (former Benue Cement Company, BCC) which had a rated capacity of 800,000 metric tonnes in 2004, when Dangote took it over, has been modernised and expanded with a current capacity of four million metric tonnes per annum.

Alhaji Aliko Dangote

“We have also completed and are presently commissioning the expansion of our existing capacity at Obajana by the addition of a new line with a capacity of 5.25 million metric tonnes per annum to raise Obajana capacity to 10.25 metric tonnes per annum, becoming the world’s largest cement plant,” the Dangote President said.

Speaking specifically on the new plant, the business mogul said: “Dangote Cement Ibese is a modern plant with installed capacity of six million metric tonnes of cement per annum and currently ranks as the largest cement plant in sub-Saharan Africa.

“The plant consists of two production lines in three million metric tonnes per annum each. We project that the plant will create jobs for about 7,000 Nigerians and will in addition, substantially boost the supply of cement in the Nigerian market. Increased supply from the Ibese plant will help stabilise supply to the market and ultimately bring down market price of cement”.

Continuing, he said, the construction of another six million metric tonnes per annum Ibese Phase 11 cement plant will be flagged off, bringing the total to 12 million metric tonnes when completed.

Not satisfied with the success it has recorded locally, Dangote Group has has taken cement production into other African countries.

“In line with our long-term vision to be the number one cement producer in the world, we have embarked on a pan-African expansion drive. We are currently building new cement plants and setting up terminals in 14 African countries. We envisage that by the time we complete all these projects, we will be in a position to produce about 60 million metric tonnes per annum of cement by the end of 2014.

This will place us among the top eight cement producing companies in the world,” he said. President Goodluck Jonathan who commissioned the new plant, lauded Ogun State Government for creating the enabling environment for private investors to invest in the state.

Recalling the pains Nigerians had to grapple with when the policy on backward integration was introduced in 2002, President Jonathan said the policy has led to the establishment of industries like the Dangote Cement Plant at Ibese.

He insisted that no genuine government will take pleasure in inflicting pains on its citizens, adding that although some policies may appear painful at the onset, the end result would bring greater joy and glory to the country.

“Now the story has changed; very soon, we will enter into the Guiness Book of Records as having the biggest cement plant in the world. Very soon, we will become a cement exporting country instead of an importing nation,” he said.

He pledged to strengthen the Standards Organisation of Nigeria SON, to enable the agency guard against the importation or manufacture of sub-standard products.

Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun said his government has created the enabling environment that would make the state the new investors’ destination in Nigeria.

Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.