Cementing Nigeria's future
Lafarge has embraced the housing and infrastructure challenges in the Nigerian construction sector, in order to support the country's socio-economic development
Writer Matt Bone
Project Manager Tom Cullum
Lafarge Cement WAPCO Nigeria Plc is one of the foremost cement manufacturing and marketing companies in Nigeria. Since its establishment in 1959, the company has grown sustainably and made a tremendous contribution to the availability of cement in the country. As a result of its take-over in February 2008, Lafarge SA became the majority shareholder in WAPCO, culminating in the change of name from West African Portland Cement Plc to Lafarge Cement WAPCO Nigeria Plc.
A subsidiary of Lafarge SA, the world's largest cement manufacturer and leader in building materials with a presence in 64 countries, Lafarge WAPCO has been and will continue to be the driving force for quality in Nigeria's construction industry and positions innovation at the heart of its priorities, working towards sustainable construction and architectural creativity in every project.
The company has three plants in Nigeria - one in Sagamu and two in Ewekoro - with a current production capacity of 4.5 million metric tonnes. With an objective of increasing the overall availability of cement to Nigerians, as well as assisting in achieving the Federal Government's drive for affordable housing, Lafarge WAPCO has made immense investments in supporting Nigeria's socio-economic development.
Building Better Cities
Lafarge Cement WAPCO Nigeria Plc is in the business of 'Building Better Cities', a vision that is expressed through the innovative solutions and services their operations offer. Two such areas that has really benefitted from the innovation of Lafarge is the housing and infrastructures sectors, which have seen huge inputs from the company over recent years including the building of communities areas and better road transport links.
Lafarge Cement WAPCO Nigeria Plc have been operational for over 55 years, and during that time, they have built up a positive and enduring legacy on the nation's individual landscape.
The construction market is a hotly contested one, where being the preferred choice can be the difference between profit and loss. Lafarge Cement WAPCO Nigeria Plc is well placed to become the number one trusted and preferred partner of Nigerian construction professionals and home builders alike. The company is doing its utmost to achieve this goal by ensuring that it delivers cement and concrete solutions that are high quality, environmentally sustainable and available nationwide at an affordable cost.
A Rising Housing Demand
Due to the rapid population growth and urbanisation over the last 10 years in Nigeria, Lafarge has seen the need for affordable housing rise dramatically during that time. There is still a significant need for affordable housing in Nigeria, as well as a strong need for the upgrading of infrastructure in order to cope with this growth; and Lafarge has stepped up to this challenge by working in partnership with the government to build 75,000 homes a year for low- to middle-income earners.
With several large scale slums being demolished in recent years, more and more of the country's poor are looking for new homes. Lafarge Cement WAPCO Nigeria Plc have been working to try and meet this burgeoning need for housing with an estimated 5000 homes being earmarked for building in Lagos alone. It is this level of commitment Lafarge Cement WAPCO Nigeria Plc has for its own country that continues to make it a company for the people.
With an approach based on careful planning and research, Lafarge Cement WAPCO Nigeria aim to ensure that the solutions they offer to their customers are always tailored for individual project needs. By utilising state-of-the-art systems and solutions that greatly increase the available options in the construction of foundations, facades and floorings, the company has quickly been widely recognised as an innovative company who do not reuse old ideas, but continually strive for excellence.
Lafarge always try to combine several materials to ensure optimal performance in terms of cost, insulation and strength. The company is constantly looking for new and more advanced techniques to offer the industry, techniques which are being developed and refined by the dedicated R&D teams at the company, ensuring that Lafarge Cement WAPCO Nigeria is always ahead of the curve.
Investing in Nigeria
Lafarge Cement WAPCO Nigeria Plc is demonstrating its commitment as a fixture in the Nigerian economy with the plan to invest additional £800 million (N220 billion) over the next three to five years on expansion programmes across the country.
This is something that the company has prided itself on, having already invested well over £750 million between 2009 and 2012. This new investment is to enable the company complete the expansion of its plant in Calabar, as well as in Ashaka Cement in the North.
The sign of a truly market leading construction company is that it works within all sectors in the building industry of Nigeria, from do-it-yourself builders to large construction companies. Lafarge Cement WAPCO Nigeria Plc is certainly a market leader, who does not just work with builders but also with local architects and artisans. Whether supplying high-quality cement to a craftsman or helping leading architects explore and deliver creative possibilities, Lafarge is committed to providing solutions that are tailored to the needs of all their clients.
Lafarge Cement WAPCO Nigeria Plc take pride in their ability to provide services and solutions beyond the traditional building materials market. Through innovation and performance, the company intends to meet the challenge of urbanisation head on, by helping develop and redefine Nigerian Cities. Individual clients can also benefit from the technical expertise and product innovations that have become the hallmark of Lafarge. Lafarge Cement WAPCO Nigeria Plc always strives to understand the crux of a project with the client, and ensure that the client's vision of a project becomes a reality. It is this client relationship that puts Lafarge Cement WAPCO Nigeria Plc head and shoulders above the competition.
Value Centric Ventures
Lafarge Cement WAPCO Nigeria Plc has gained a reputation for putting values at the forefront of their business and the company is continuing to push its strong values of health and safety, environmental protection, corporate governance and social responsibility in as many of their projects as possible. Through intensive training and exchange programmes, Lafarge has developed a highly competent workforce in order to ensure smooth operations across their plants and offices.
The company has placed an increased emphasis on informal on-the- job training in recent years, which has seen positive results and feedback from the workers. However, external training programmes provided by specialised organisations and business schools may be offered to meet specific individual needs or for more dedicated role-training.
In addition to the formal training programme, Lafarge also promotes the iLearn mindset (I Learn Everyday Acting and Reflecting with my Network). This approach gives a broader spectrum to learning, empowering the individuals to be active in their own on-the-job development. This has been warmly received by workers, who feel that they have a greater input into their own training and personal development.
Cutting Construction Costs
One of the biggest challenges the construction sector has been facing in Nigeria, is cost. Lafarge Cement WAPCO Nigeria Plc is very aware that trying to balance cost and quality is a tough act indeed. However, they have strived to bring down the cost of building in the country.
Having reduced overall project expenditure, Lafarge want to continue project construction without compromising on the same high level of quality that they currently offer. The aim is to use more alternative fuels in order to reduce their energy bill and over-reliance on both fossil fuels and non-renewable energy. One such sustainable construction compromise is by improving the thermal inertia of buildings at a design stage in order to reduce heating and air-conditioning costs as well as CO2 emissions. Other such sustainable construction methods that the company is undertaking includes reusing recycled materials during construction stages and the incorporation of renewable energy sources, such as solar power, into new build designs.
Training for the Future
For Lafarge Cement WAPCO Nigeria Plc, training is an investment into both the company's and the country's future. Accomplished and content employees will always play an important role in the long-term success of any business and Lafarge Cement WAPCO Nigeria Plc is enthusiastic about ensuring their workers are proficient in their roles. By offering training and job related development internally, employees can take control of their own careers and further their knowledge.
The learning resources available to company employees are not limited to just job related training. Lafarge created its own University in 2003. It was designed to improve management skills and encourage managers to act in compliance with the Group's Principles of Action. This corporate university works in partnership with some of the best business schools in the world: INSEAD and Henley in Europe and Duke University and Chicago GSB in the United States. These programmes help to build networks between managers and encourage knowledge sharing and the development of best practices. Content is regularly updated and enriched. For example, Lafarge University is working with the Executive Finance Committee to implement a programme on the ways financial directors can add value in their management committee.
With Lafarge Cement WAPCO Nigeria driving down the costs of high quality construction projects in Nigeria, the country is beginning to reap the benefits. The number of in-demand, affordable houses has risen, enabling families who were previously unable to purchase a house to do so. The company will continue to raise the standard of construction in the country through civil and corporate projects and are well placed to live up to their motto: Building Better Cities.