Nigeria’s National Sugar Master Plan (NSMP) was designed to attract over $1 billion annually in local and foreign direct investments and create an estimated 107,000 jobs over the first ten-year period.
Its aim is to raise local production of sugar to enable the country attain self-sufficiency; stem the tide of unbridled importation; create huge number of job opportunities and to contribute to the production of ethanol and generation of electricity.
In order to support the federal government’s Backward Integration Programme (BIP), chairman of Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc, Aliko Dangote recently said that the National Sugar Master Plan (NSMP) when executed as designed could fetch the nation foreign exchange in excess of $700 million yearly from the Backward Integration component of the plan.
Dangote made this disclosure recently while receiving in his office some businessmen who were on a visit to Dangote Sugar in Lagos. He however warned that the BIP scheme must be protected to insulate the Nigerian economy to be able to achieve the twin objectives of local manufacturing and job creation.
Dangote Sugar Refinery, which began its Backward Integration Programme (BIP) with a 10-year sugar development plan, to produce 1.5 million MT per annum of sugar from locally grown sugarcane.
The project commenced with acquisition of large expanse of land in strategic locations such as Taraba State, Adamawa State and Nasarawa State. To this end, three (3) BIP sugar companies; Dangote Taraba Sugar Limited, Dangote Adamawa Sugar Limited, Nasarawa Sugar Company Limited were incorporated.
The company had commenced rehabilitation and expansion of its sugar factory at Numan towards increasing production capacity by 6,000 tons of cane per day (TCD). Sugarcane planting has also commenced in two other BIP locations.
Sugar, a commodity that has received increased attention in recent years, provides an avenue for Nigeria to improve its diversification strategy. According to a study, Nigeria’s sugar output barely accounts for seven per cent of its demand. Grown in states such as Katsina, Taraba, Kano, and Adamawa, the commodity fetches Nigeria a miserly $24.88 million in revenue and the demand gap is approximately 900,000 metric tons. This has resulted in an annual sugar import bill of approximately $100 million, the largest import bill for the commodity in sub-Saharan Africa.
The Nigerian Sugar Master Plan of 2012 is the starting point for backward integration in the sector. The plan’s objective was to boost domestic production of sugar to attain self-sufficiency by 2020 and to contribute to the production of ethanol and the generation of electricity.
According to Dangote, if the national sugar master plan is followed strictly and the players all follow the rules, the country will be better for it as Nigeria will save between $600 million and $700 million annually as forex.
Dangote also told the visitors that the Dangote Group is scaling up its social intervention in communities hosting its companies across the country. He said efforts were being made to impact positively on the host communities saying his companies had expended billions of naira in states where these investments are located.
Dangote explained that the Corporate Social Responsibility projects undertaken by his companies were in addition to efforts by his Foundation, Aliko Dangote Foundation, which is presently giving out micro grants to vulnerable women in all the 774 local governments across the country.
It would be recalled that the minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo who was on a working tour of the Dangote’s expansive Savannah Sugar Company (SSCL) Ltd in Numan, Adamawa State and Tunga sugar project site in Nasarawa State, described the projects as huge, impressive and amazing.
The minister said about the Dangote’s sugar plantation in Nasarawa State is a very impressive sight, saying that “Amazingly, such a project exists in this place. What we have seen so far from all the plantations we have been to are very impressive. We are impressed with the level of work they are doing.”
Group executive director, Government and Strategic Relations Mansur Ahmed had described Nasarawa State as one of the easiest states in the country to do business.
The general manager for the BIP, Dangote Sugar, John Beverley had said, when the factory was fully operational, it would have the capacity to crush 12,000 tons of cane per day, while 90MW power would be generated for both the company’s use and host communities.
Last month, the Nasarawa State House of Assembly lawmakers who visited the sugar project site said they were highly elated and would give any legislative support to make the project a success.
Group general manager Alhaji Bello Dan-Musa had told the visiting lawmakers that when phase II of the project is completed, it would make it the largest integrated plant in Africa.
Also, shedding light on the project, Musa said, the president of Dangote Group is passionate about lifting Nigeria’s economy through strategic investment and job creation.
He added that the huge project does not only fit into the Backward Integration Policy and National Sugar Master Plan (NSMP), but the diversification agenda of the government.
The Dangote Group is the biggest private sector investor in the Backward Integration Policy of the federal government. The policy seeks to gradually halt the importation of sugar into the country.
It would be recalled that in 2017 the Dangote Industries Limited signed a landmark $700 million Memorandum of Understanding with the Nasarawa State Government.
The integrated sugar complex to be located in Tunga, Awe Local Government Area of Nasarawa state, comprises of an initial 60,000ha sugar plantation and two sugar factories with capacity to produce 430,000tpa of refined white sugar representing about 30 per cent of the country’s consumption and would be the largest plant in Nigeria. When the phase II of the project is completed, according to the company, it would make it the largest sugar refining plant in Africa.