By Chinyere Joel-Nwokeoma
Douala (Cameroon) – Dangote Cement Plc, on Thursday, achieved another feat with the inauguration of 250 million-dollar (N48.75 billion) cement grinding plant in Douala, Cameroon.
Dangote Group also laid the foundation stone for a 200 metre jetty in Douala.
Alhaji Aliko Dangote, President/ Chief Executive, Dangote Group, said at the ceremony, that the plant, with a capacity of 1.5 million metric tonnes per annum (mmtpa), was a great feat in the operations of the company.
“The plant is our largest greenfield project in a neighbouring country with which we not only share a boundary but also a long history of brotherly relationship dating from our colonial days,” Dangote said.
He said that the company signed the investment agreement for the development and operation of a quarry and cement grinding with the government of Cameroon on Sept. 19, 2011.
He said that massive economic revolution of the Cameroonian government in the power sector, infrastructural development, industrial development and the transportation industry had impacted positively on businesses.
“We can attest to this as we have been one of the major beneficiaries,” said Dangote.
He said that Dangote Cement first came into Cameroon in 2008 but signed an Investment Agreement with the government of Cameroon in 2011.
Dangote said that the investment had increased the country’s economic value through creation of thousands of jobs supported the government’s aggressive infrastructural development.
He listed other benefits of the investment to include; conservation of scarce foreign resources through drastic reduction of importation of cement; creation of revenue for the government through payment of VAT, royalties and taxes.
Dangote said that plans were on the way to commence the second phase of the plant which would double its capacity from the current 1.5mmtpa to 3.0 mmtpa.
He said that the company would soon open an additional quarry in the country and inaugurate more than 200 new trucks to enhance service delivery to its customers.
“Our desire to increase our investment with the Phase 2 project is based on not only the fast growth rate of the Cameroonian economy but also due to the warm welcome extended to us and the enabling environment created by its government.
“Our choice of Cameroon for this multi-million dollar investment is strategic because it is the largest economy in Central Africa and is well endowed with abundant natural resources,” he said.
He said that the country enjoyed political stability, adequate security and growing development of infrastructure.
Dangote also said that the investment would further strengthen the bilateral ties between Nigeria and Cameroon and fast-track Africa’s economic integration.
“Africa has the lowest per capita consumption of cement, an important index in measuring development, and only deliberate efforts by Africans to produce more than current requirements to force down prices can remedy the situation,” Dangote said.
According to him, the company has on Aug. 26 signed a 4.34 billion-dollar contract with Sinoma International Engineering Company Ltd., a Chinese construction giant, for the construction of 11 new cement plants in 10 African countries, and Nepal in Asia.
Dangote said the total capacity of the proposed plants would be 25 mmtpa, projecting that the company’s combined capacity within Africa and outside the continent would hit 100 mmtpa by 2020.
“In Nigeria, we contributed to the successful transformation of the country from being the biggest importer to a major producer and net exporter of cement,” he added.
He commended the Nigerian government for the encouragement and nurturing of the company from inception.
Dangote said that the company owed its existence to the favourable investment policies of the government which encouraged the growth of import substitution industries, especially in areas with comparative advantage like in cement.
Also speaking, President Paul Biya of Cameroon, lauded Dangote for contributing to the country’s development.
Biya, who was represented by Mr Philemon Yang, the Prime Minister, said that the company had contributed massively to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) through the investment.
He said the project had created hundreds of jobs and urged other foreign companies to emulate Dangote’s drive and invest in the country.
Biya said that the country’s economy was liberal and friendly and willing to accommodate foreign investors.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the company, with headquarters in Nigeria, currently operates in 14 African countries including Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Ethiopia.
Others are Zambia, Tanzania, South Africa, Kenya, Niger, Liberia, Mali and Cameroon. (NAN)