By Oluwafunke Ishola
Lagos – Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Chief Executive Officer, Dangote Group, has urged the Federal Government to provide critical infrastructure that would make the nation’s environment conducive for businesses to thrive.
This was disclosed by Mr Anthony Chiejina, Head of Corporate Communication, Dangote Group on Wednesday in Lagos.
Dangote made the appeal while delivering the third Eminent Persons Business Lecture and Inauguration of the Aliko Dangote Complex, a N300 million naira building donated to the University of Ibadan, School of Business.
He said his foundation would continue to prioritise education as a means of raising entrepreneurs that would change the nation’s economy and drive growth and development.
Dangote represented by Engr Ahmed Mansur, Group Executive Director, Dangote Industries Limited, said this while presenting a paper titled “Industrialisation – Backward Integration as a strategy for National Development: The Story of the Dangote Group.”
According to him, Nigeria has the potential to be among the most industrialised countries in the world and required only the right policies to propel investors into taking the lead in its industrialisation efforts.
He noted that for the nation to breakthrough industrially, the leaders and citizens must have the political will, courage and perseverance to succeed.
Dangote said backward integration was one of the best policies of government that had helped the economy, and advised that the policy should be replicated in other sectors of the economy.
The business mogul said backward integration would increase cost control, efficiency, improved coordination and delivery of raw materials along the production process.
“The impact of the policy was felt within the first decade of its implementation as Nigeria became self-sufficient in cement production.
“Installed cement production capacity has now grown from 3 million metric tons in 2002 to 44 million metric tons as at December 2017,” he said.
He said as at 2002, about 600 million dollars was spent annually as cement import bill, but the country had now successfully transitioned from being a net importer to self-sufficiency and net exporter.
Dangote noted that despite the benefits inherent in the policy, businesses faced major challenges in developing and using backward integration.
He listed some of the challenges as; inadequate power supply, lengthy and costly processes of gaining access to land, poor quality transportation infrastructure and high cost of capital.
Others are; Inconsistency of policy implementation, lack of inter-sectoral policy coordination, inadequacy of knowledge and skills in the workforce and lack of foreign exchange.
According to him, most of the challenges relate to the poor quality of the overall business environment, rather than local content policies.
Earlier, Prof. Abel Olayinka, Vice-Chancellor, University of Ibadan, commended Dangote for the building, describing it as the first largest individual donor to the university and a legacy that would forever be cherished.
He explained that Dangote was to initially donate N250 million to the university, but they prevailed on him to build the complex rather than giving money and that the decision had paid off for the university.
The Oyo State Governor, Abiola Ajimobi, urged Nigerian youths to learn a big lesson from Dangote’s humble beginning, and that with hard work he had become one of the greatest entrepreneurs in Africa.
Ajimobi, represented by Prof. Joseph Olowofela, Oyo State Commissioner of Education, lamented that nowadays, most youths did not cherish hard work, but wanted to get rich quick, which explained the increase in social vices in the country.
“We need a paradigm shift from the get rich quickly at all cost to hard work that leads to wealth,” Ajimobi said in a statement by Chiejina.