By OLUSHOLA BELLO, Lagos –
Currently in 15 African countries, Dangote Cement is gradually closing in the demand and supply gap of cement in Africa as the construction material industry witnesses dramatic turnaround.
The turnaround is expected to throw the continent into the realm of self-sufficiency in cement. Besides meeting the prevailing demand in the construction industry, the revolution is saving the continent huge foreign exchange on importation, as well as boosting employment opportunities.
As part of Dangote Cement’s quest to propel Africa towards achieving self-sufficiency in cement production, the company has established presence in 15 countries: Nigeria, Cameroon, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, Niger and Mali.
For Africa, a continent, which faces severe infrastructural deficits, the need for local self-sufficiency in cement production cannot be over-emphasised as this will help in bridging the infrastructure deficit and contribute to accelerating the development of the continent.
The production and consumption of cement is linked to infrastructure development and the growth of economies. The World Population Bureau estimates that the population of Africa will rise from 1.1 billion in 2013 to 2.4 billion in 2050. This means that most of the continent’s economies will have to double in size in the next 36 years.
If that is to happen, then the stock of Africa’s infrastructure assets, including all of its residential, industrial and commercial buildings and power, transport and sanitation systems, will have to double in size.
This will require unthinkable amount of cement, building materials, construction planning, manpower, products and services to accomplish such a momentous task. And, for this reason, investing in cement industry will revive the infrastructure, which will provide the platform for the strong economic growth.
Africa is blessed with natural resources among which are limestone an ingredient for the production of cement, and it is time Africa focued on using its various resources to drive domestic industrialization.
With the latest opening of its new factory in Republic of Congo, which is the largest cement plant in Congo-Brazzaville in terms of installed production capacity and also the largest integrated cement producer in the CEMAC region comprising Cameroon, Chad, Central African Republic (CAR), Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and now, the Republic of the Congo.
The Congo-Brazzaville’s plant is expected to reduce and eventually replace cement imports into Congo-Brazzaville and CEMAC region. The project is also expected to further cement the existing cordial ties between the Republic of the Congo and Nigeria.
Over view of the country showed that the Republic of Congo is actively improving infrastructure. In recent years, new airports, dams, bridges, roads, stadia, and administrative buildings have been constructed. Construction in the country has slowed down after the completion of the 2015 African Games projects and the fall in oil prices. Some private construction work continues but most government projects have stalled.
The Republic of Congo has initiated a program called “Municipalisation Accélérée”, which consists of selecting one city each year that will be the beneficiary of a vast programme of construction projects to build roads, schools, dams, hospitals, and airports, and ending with the celebration of Independence Day in the selected regional capital every August 15th. This program has benefited eleven cities so far and has been linked to the construction of five national airports, several hospitals and numerous roads.
Speaking at the commissioning of 1.5 million MTPA Dangote Cement Congo plant recently, President Mohammadu Buhari who was represented by the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi commended Alhaji Aliko Dangote and his Cement Company for championing economic renaissance of Africa with the construction of cement plants across several African countries, saying the sterling accomplishment makes the Dangote Cement brand, and indeed Aliko Dangote himself, worthy ambassadors of Nigeria.
President Buhari said his government has consistently supported and encouraged the Dangote Group in its quest to contribute its quota to the economic emancipation of the African continent, which is blessed with a plethora of natural resources.
Buhari recalled with satisfaction that local cement manufacturers such as Dangote Cement, Lafarge and BUA, have exploited one of the solid minerals, limestone which is a basic input for cement production and which Nigeria has in abundance, in different parts of the country to achieve self-sufficiency in local cement production in 2015, and is now a net exporter of the product.
“The backward integration policy of the federal government in the cement sector, which was launched in 2002, has contributed to this success story by successfully substituting imports with local production, we have saved over $2 billion spent on cement importation into Nigeria, annually.
“We have also started using cement for road construction in the country due to its numerous advantages over the more common bituminous road. Again, in this area, Dangote Cement is leading the charge, through AG-Dangote, its joint venture with Andrade-Gutierrez, a construction giant in Brazil”, Nigeria’s President stated.
President of Republic of Congo, Mr. Denis Sassou Nguesso while inaugurating the plant said the investment was an industrial revolution, sort of, within the Economic Community of the Central African States (CEMAC), saying his country was happy to host the investment.
According to him, his government has observed the operations of Dangote cement in other African countries and it has helped buoyed their economies by sparking off other allied industries expressed the hope that Congo situation would not be an exception.
The Congolese President described the coming on stream of the Dangote cement as timely and encouraging because it starting operations at a time the total government revenues have plummeted by 31.3 percent and revenues from the oil sector have fallen 65.1 percent since 2015 due to a slide in global crude prices.
Chairman of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, said the inauguration of the plant will boost Congo’s economy, conserve foreign exchange that would otherwise have been spent on imports for the country, and create employment opportunities down the value chain.
The Company total production capacity across Africa at the end of May 2017, stood at 45.8 million metric tonnes per annum, making the Company one of the biggest cement producers on the continent with aspiration to be rank among the top 10 cement producers in the world by 2020.