By Hussaini Ibrahim –
Next year, Nigeria will become self-sufficient in cement production and a net exporter of the product. This entails that the country’s cement industry will save the nation’s economy about $2 billion in foreign exchange, with an output capacity of 45 million tonnes per annum, 1400 per cent up from about 3.0 million a decade ago.
This is the outcome of the industrial evolution BUA Group is undertaking in the industry. Last Tuesday, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo commissioned the 3.0 million tonnes Okpella plant line-1. He also performed the ground breaking ceremony of the second line (Line-2) of BUA Group’s Okpella plant which has a target completion date in the first quarter of next year.
It is not rocket science that a project whose groundbreaking was performed barely one week will be completed in Q1 of next year. The actual construction works had started earlier this year, reaching about 70 per cent completion level as at last week. A similar project in Sokoto will also bring a total 12 million tonnes capacity into the nation’s cement industry by BUA Group.
Speaking at the event last Wednesday, the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, BUA Group, Abdulsamad Rabiu, said the commissioning of the over $1billion complex comprising of the 3 million tonnes BUA Cement, Obu Plant line 1 and the ground-breaking of the second line of the same capacity was a significant milestone for BUA Group, the cement industry and the country’s economy as they will not only make the country self-sufficient in cement production but also a net exporter of the commodity. He noted that the construction of a second cement plant line of 3 million tonnes was essential as the success and impressive efficiency of the Obu cement plant in its first year of operation was over 90 per cent of capacity utilisation.
Rabiu said, “This marks an important milestone, not only for the BUA Group but also for the Nigerian cement industry and the Nigerian economy in general as we witness the official commissioning of the 3 million tonnes Obu cement plant, as well as the ground-breaking of the second line of 3 million tonnes plant.
“Today’s event has witnessed the commissioning of one of the best cement plants anywhere in the world. It is engineered to be the most environmentally friendly cement plant in Africa with the most advanced duct emission systems. We also use natural gas, which is a very clean energy for both our kiln as well as the power plant in addition to having a very green environment.
“Similarly, BUA has started the construction of another greenfield cement plant in Sokoto State with an annual capacity of 1.5 million tons at a cost of over $300 million which will be commissioned in 2018.
“Additionally, our investments in the 2 cement lines in Edo State represent the largest non-oil and gas related investment in the whole of the South-Southern region of Nigeria. With these, BUA will have invested over $2 billion dollars in the Nigerian cement industry with capacities in excess of over 10 million tons per annum within the course of a decade”.
The foremost industrialist observed that the over 10 years Nigerian integrated cement manufacturing policy which has transformed the country’s cement industry is a signal that Nigeria is closely attaining self-sufficiency in cement production and net exportation. According to him, the company built a 31 Kilometer gas pipeline to supply power to the
plant, in addition to BUA’s investment in purchasing an over 50-megawatts power plant supplied by Siemens for the complex.
“The cement sub-sector today represents over 90 per cent of the Nigerian mining sector and employs some 30,000 people directly and over two millionpeople indirectly”, Rabiu added.
He further stated that the event marked the commissioning of one of the best cement plants anywhere in the world. “It is engineered to be the most environmentally friendly cement plant in Africa with the most advanced duct emission systems. Our technology has the latest filtration with capacity of less than 10 milligram per normal meter use. We use natural gas, which is a very clean energy for both our kiln as well as the power plant in addition to having a very green environment”.
When it was time for him to speak, Vice President Osinbajo did not conceal his admiration for BUA Group. While congratulating the Chairman and the staff of the company for the remarkable achievement, Osinbajo described the commissioning of the multi-million dollar BUA Cement Factory in Okpella as a consolidation of Nigeria’s self-sufficiency in cement and a big boost to the nation’s export capacity. He said Rabiu is “numbered among individuals in Nigeria who are properly described as entrepreneurs, men and women running true, value added, job creating enterprises, using local resources and talents to create values and wealth”.
He added: “I am extremely proud to be a Nigerian and I’m sure that several of us here are. This is a wholly Nigerian enterprise and we know that the planning, the execution and successful establishment of this industrial complex was done by a Nigerian and by a Nigerian team. It is really good to know. The construction of this plant is of course, a big boost to the Nigerian economy, it will provide thousands of direct jobs and indirect jobs, both for skilled and unskilled workers from the commencement of the construction of the plant to the smooth-running of the operation processes.
“At the level of production obtain it also means the consolidation of the Nigeria’s self-sufficiency in cement and a big boost to our export capacity.
“I am happy to note that for the construction of power production facility for this plant, the BUA Group has used the most modern and efficient gas turbine which combines low and economically value-cost with a very high degree of reliability”.
Osinbajo noted that the enterprise represents the expectations of the present government in the economic and growth recovery plans which was launched by President Muhammadu Buhari on April 05, 2017, where the President made it clear that Nigeria’s economic emancipation and growth must be private sector-led and driven.
The vice president described the plant as a consolidation of Nigeria’s self-sufficiency in cement and a big boost to the nation’s export capacity.
He reaffirmed the Buhari-led administration determination to continue with providing the enabling business environment, while going the extra mile to directly assist private sector in steadily growing our economy.
He added that the present administration is working very hard with the Industrial Policy Council to evolve and implement well-considered solutions to business impediments and economy stagnation in Nigeria.
In his remark, Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State who extolled the entrepreneurial spirit of BUA Group for reinvesting in the plant added that by the time the second line ia completed, they would have invested in excess of a billion dollar to produce cement. He lauded the President Buhari-led administration for creating an enabling and economic driven environment for investors to thrive. The governor said his government will continue to encourage investors for more mind blowing investments such as witnessed in BUA Group’s cement.
BUA entered into the Nigerian Cement industry in 2008 with the acquisition of BUA Cement-1, a two-million tonner floating cement terminal that was able to process bulk cement into bags on a vessel. The trajectory of the Group’s cement operation saw it acquire a controlling stake in the publicly listed Cement Company of Northern Nigeria Plc (CCNN), as well as in Edo Cement Company Limited in the same year.
The company went on to invest in the construction of a greenfield 3.0 million tonnes plant in Okpella (Obu), Edo State, which was also commissioned by the vice president last Wednesday.
Ibrahim wrote from Kaduna.