The Dangote Group announced in April that it would begin constructing a $1 billion cement factory in Okpella, Edo State, to expand its cement production in Nigeria, and to fulfil its President, Alhaji Aliko Dangote’s long-standing belief in the country’s global potential.
The News Agency of Nigeria reported at the time that the six million metric tonnes per annum (mmtpa) Okpella plant and the upcoming six mmtpa plant in Itori, Ogun State, will increase the Company’s local production capacity to 41 mmtpa annually.
The Okpella project, which is to be constructed within 26 months, will provide 6,000 direct jobs and 45,000 indirect jobs in the community.
Kayode Fayemi, the Minister of Solid Minerals, said at the unveiling ceremony at Okpella that the cement plant was evidence that the diversification agenda of the Federal Government was already working.
He added that the cement plant would be a model that would bring positive changes to the nation’s solid minerals sector in the areas of job creation, foreign exchange earnings and local content promotion.
Fayemi also advised other investors to take a cue from Dangote’s commitment and support to transform the nation’s economy through active participation.
Okechukwu Enelamah, the Minister for Trade, Industry and Investment, commended the expansion drive of Dangote Group through its commitment to liberate the country from cement importation, increased job creation and foreign exchange earnings.
“Dangote Group is the second largest employer of labour in the country, second to the Federal Government,” he said. “The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Investment will continue to partner with Dangote in providing the necessary support for investment growth in the country.”
Aliko Dangote, Chief Executive Officer of Dangote Group, said that local cement manufacturers were saving the country three billion dollars annually through cement import substitution and that “the additional investment in the sector will guarantee that we always meet local demand as well as surplus for export and foreign exchange generation”.
Governor, Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State said that the establishment of the cement plant would increase the internally generated revenue of the state and reduce its dependence on federal allocations from oil wealth.
Yusuf Dirisu, the monarch of Okpella, commended the commitment of Dangote Group to the establishment of the plant, while pledging the community’s support to provide an enabling environment for the investment to thrive.
Dangote meanwhile joined Government officials in urging other investors to explore investment opportunities in the country considering the Federal Government’s readiness to resuscitate the industrial sector through investment friendly policies.
“A key factor that drives investments in an economy is the presence of an investor-friendly business climate,” he emphasised. “Nigeria is a growing economy. Our developmental challenges are quite enormous and will require the combined efforts of Government and the private sector to overcome them.
“It is in this light that we are here to contribute our own quota to transforming the economy of Edo State as we have done elsewhere.
“This project is only one of our several successful projects presently ongoing in parts of the country and outside in more than 15 other locations in African countries in line with our pan-African investment strategy.”
World’s best secret
The latest announcement represents the latest phase in a long running romance that the infamous Company President has had with his home nation, often describing the country as one of the world’s best kept secrets in terms of investments.
A recent exclusive interview with CNN once again compounded these thoughts with him declaring that he feels fulfilled in knowing he’s doing something great for his country.
"Nigeria is really the best place to invest,” he affirmed. “It is one of the best places to make money. You know all over the world it is the best kept secret actually in terms of investment."
Dangote told CNN he was motivated to create an African success story and to create employment in Nigeria because he believes that entrepreneurship holds the key to the future economic growth of the continent. He also said he is committed to improving the conditions of those living close to his factories, as part of his philosophy of corporate social responsibility.
Dangote added that one of his cement factories, the Obajana Cement Plant, one of the largest in the world, plans to double its capacity, thus creating even more employment opportunities for the local population.
Subsequently, as one of the largest private sector employers in Nigeria, with a nationwide workforce of 12,000, a figure that is set to rise with the opening of the aforementioned new factories, Dangote’s multi-billion dollar conglomerate is only set to expand further in the coming years.
As Africa’s richest man, his net worth is now thought to be above US$18 billion; a fortune that is likely to have a significant bearing on the state of his country’s economy, culture and social fabric moving forward.