Teddy Nwanunobi, Abuja
Abuja (Sundiata Post) – Determined to tap into the opportunity provided by the scarcity of forex in the country to create jobs, foremost entrepreneur, Aliko Dangote, has embarked on the establishment of $100 million vehicle assembly plant project in Lagos, which is expected to generate employment for an estimated 3,000 workers when fully operational.
This is even as Dangote plans to float a 650,000 barrels per day capacity Dangote Refinery, petrochemical and fertilizer plants worth $17 billion in Lagos.
Specifically, the plant will be churning out heavy duty trucks on which his conglomerate, the Dangote Group spends huge amount on its importation to distribute its products both locally and across African countries.
Dangote is partnering a leading Chinese Company, National Heavy Duty Truck Group Company Limited, SINOTRUCK to produce several thousand of trucks used mainly for haulage business from its newly promoted assembly plant at Ikeja, Lagos.
The decision to go into the truck assembly plant project was informed by the need to conserve forex in view of the current economic recession that is facing the country.
The $100 million deal, which is expected to have an assembly plant that will produce 10,000 trucks per year, was signed in May 2014 in China, making it the eighth of Shandong, China (SINOTRUK), to be built abroad.
According to the deal agreement, the plant is 60 percent owned by Dangote Group, trading under Dangote Industries Limited, leaving SINOTRUK with the remaining 40 percent equity stake.
Consequently, Dangote Agro Sacks Limited, which occupied the Oba-Akran Ogba premises of the former Nigerian Textile Mills, until recently, has been relocated closer to the Group’s major operational hubs, particularly the cement plants in Obajana, Kogi State and Ibeshe, Ogun State.
Nigeria remains one of the most important markets for SINOTRUK, with Dangote Group operates the largest truck fleet in Africa with over 10,000 trucks, using them for the distribution of its products, like cement, sugar, flour and pasta, among others, even in its plants across the continent.
Chief Corporate Communication Officer of Dangote Group, Mr. Anthony Chiejina, confirmed the project has taken off, and that when fully operational, the nation would be spared the nation of huge amount of forex spent in the importation of the heavy duty vehicles.
According to him, there will be room for the expansion of the project in years to come as it meets the national truck demand, it would explore exportation to neighbouring countries to generate foreign exchange for the nation.
Chiejina said the Group President, Aliko Dangote, has always believed that the current economic challenges, when approached positively, will make Nigeria stronger at the end of the day.
“Alhaji Aliko still believes that Nigeria is one of the best places in the world to do business,” he said.
The automobile assembly plant is also coming ahead of another landmark project, 650,000-barrel per day capacity Dangote Refinery, petrochemical and fertilizer plants that are worth the sum of $17 billion in Lagos.
The plants are expected to create over 300,000 direct and indirect jobs when they finally begin operations in the next two years.
By the time the plants take off in the first quarter of 2019, they would require a lot of long trucks for product distribution.
It would be recalled that in preparation of completion of the refinery project, some 100 trainee engineers had been sent on training abroad to handle sensitive aspects of the multi-billion dollar investment in petroleum products and petrochemical plant.