By Ola Ajayi
IBADAN—AFRICA’S richest man, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, yesterday, lamented that Nigeria currently spends about N1.5 trillion annually on importation of food, saying it puts heavy pressure on the country’s foreign exchange.
The business tycoon said this at the 3rd Eminent Persons Business lecture entitled: ‘A case for backward integration’, and commissioning of multi-million naira Aliko Dangote Complex built for UI Business School, which held at the Trenchard Hall, University of Ibadan.
Dangote, who was represented by Group Executive Director, Aliko Dangote Group, Engr Ahmeed Mansur said: “With an enviable population and natural resources, not many countries have the advantages that Nigeria offers to manufacturers. The risks of a long-term investment in backward integration for largest businesses are, therefore, greatly reduced.”
Alhaji Dangote, who hinted that he currently has over 15,000 direct employees and tens of thousands of indirect employees, disclosed that he plans to invest over N180billion to build four new factories in Sokoto and Kebbi States.
He said: “Dangote Sugar acquired the moribund 50,000 tons per annum capacity sugar producing factory-the Savannah Sugar Company Limited in Numan, Adamawa State in 2002. We have repositioned the company and planted thousands of hectares of sugarcane plantation to supply the raw materials for refining.”
On the erratic power supply, Dangote said he has begun a process that would generate 12,000 megawatts.
He further stated that it is important to ensure there is a balance between the regulatory requirements imposed to boost backward linkages and maintaining competitiveness.
He said: “Requirements should not be so onerous that they discourage compliance or raise costs to the level that they discourage investment and render the local industry uncompetitive.
“It is critically important to ensure any protection provided to local suppliers is temporary and does not affect their long-term competitiveness in terms of cost, quality, and productivity.”