President and Chief Executive of the Dangote Group Alhaji Aliko Dangote said yesterday that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration was on the right path in the diversification of the nation’s economy.
His assertion followed new policies implemented through the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment as well as Ministry for Solid Mineral Development.
Dangote spoke at the ground-breaking ceremony of Okpella cement financed by his group.
He hailed efforts of the President in revitalising the solid mineral sector, noting that the sector could provide employment and improve non-oil revenue.
Dangote noted that the new plant could transform the economy of Okpella and Edo State.
Dangote said investment in local cement plants saved Nigeria $3 billion spent on importing cement.
He urged the private sector to invest in critical areas of the economy since the Federal Government has expressed readiness to resuscitate the industrial sector.
Dangote said he would always invest in Nigeria, adding that Nigeria remains the best place to invest in the world.
He said: “While others are sitting and waiting, the Dangote Group is thinking ahead by investing in additional cement capacities in Okpella in Edo State and Itori in Ogun State. We have also invested in a 100MW Power Generation Plant for Itori and Okpella.
“A key factor that drives investments in an economy is the presence of an investor-friendly business climate. Indeed, Edo State is one of the most attractive investment destinations in Nigeria.
“The economic reforms in Edo State, especially in tax, innovations in rural finance and investment on infrastructure, have produced an enabling environment that has further provided a platform for future growth. These factors encouraged us to consider Edo State as the right destination for this investment.
“By this investment, Dangote is increasing its production capacity, thus maintaining its leadership in the industry. The Okpella six million capacity plant will take our local capacity to 35m mtpa, and with the coming on stream of the 6m mtpa plant at Itori in Ogun State, our local capacity will go up to 41m mtpa.”
The project, he added, “is only one of our several successful projects in parts of the country and outside in more than 15 other locations in African countries, in line with our Pan African investment strategy”.
Edo State Governor Adams Governor said his administration has created enabling environments for businesses to strive in the state.
However, impressed at the continuous investments in cement production despite having met local demands, the Federal Government said the gains of backward integration in the cement sector, as championed by the Dangote Group, is saving the nation billions of foreign exchange.
Minister of Solid Mineral Development Dr. Kayode Fayemi and his counterpart in Trade and investments, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, said government was pleased with Dangote Cement in ensuring that the nation frees itself from endless importation and becoming net exporter.
This said tallied with the change agenda of the Buhari government to substitute importation with local production and consume only products produced locally.
They said the volatility in the international oil market and the excessive dependent on importation have put pressure on the naira, adding that the government would free the naira from such pressure.
Fayemi said the Federal Government would meet with the 36 governors to simplify access to land by investors in solid minerals.
He said continuous investment in the mining sector would earn the nation $25 billion annually by 2025.
The $1 billion cement plant has the capacity to hire 6,000 new jobs.
The new six million metric tonnes per annum capacity cement plant is coming on the heels of similar arrangements in Itori and Ibeshe, Ogun, with 12 million metric cement in combined capacity.
By this investment, Dangote cement’s production capacity will increase to 41metric tonnes per annum in Nigeria alone.