With many countries strategising for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) that kicked off at the beginning of this month, Dangote Industries Ltd has said its cement expansion plan and fertiliser investments would open new trade routes for the company and Nigeria under the trade deal.
In a statement Sunday, the company said already the cement company, despite an installed capacity of 29.3Mta in Nigeria, was targeting an expanded entity in-country and in Cameroon, while new plants would soon be ready for commissioning in Niger, Benin, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and Togo.
The statement quoted President/Chief Executive Dangote industries Ltd Aliko Dangote as saying Africa needed to deliberately improve its per capita consumption of cement in order to aid infrastructural development by stimulating further demand and forcing down the cost of the commodity.
With the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTD) report for 2020 clearly stating that for the Africa free trade area to work, the deficit in infrastructure should be looked into, Dangote hoped to leverage the deficit with his cement investment in the continent.
For Dangote Industries Ltd, moving goods like cement by road from Nigeria where they are manufactured to Ghana, where there is a big market, is “unviable”, hence the need for new plants that would open multiple trade routes.
Earlier, Executive Director of the Group Devakumar Edwin had explained the movement of products via road was expensive as the governments of Togo and Benin complained of the pollution the trucks would bring to the environment as well as the toll on the roads.
With the success of the Doula plant in Cameroon, the company was already doubling its capacity in Yaoundé and targeting three million tonnes in the country to check competition as well as earn foreign exchange.
Last year, Dangote Cement’s Pan Africa performance has been strong for all its operations in terms of margin in local currency with a few exceptions due to COVID-19.
As the restrictions in many economies are lifted, the company is hopeful of improved performance and earnings.
‘Our journey excellent’
Also, pioneer country manager, Dangote Cement Cameroon SA, Abdullahi Baba, stated that the journey in the last five years had been excellent.
“We came in and the market was already satisfied but we brought out high quality products at affordable prices. We are so proud at the way we have been received both by the government and the people of Cameroon and I want to say that as at today, we have become the household name and we have come to stay in the entire country.
“There are so many high points for the company. The first was that we came into Cameroon with the best technology available in the industry anywhere in the world. The other was that we introduced products that were the trailblazer in Cameroon as at that time because our quality was up there,” Baba said.
He said: “We are doing everything we can to ensure that we maintain this position, but the key thing is the market share, the profitability and the maximising of the use of local raw materials in the production of cement.
“As we continue to work on volume increase and cost reduction, our current programme of alternative fuel system for all of our plants is will equally change the game. By leveraging alternative energy, we hope to bring down our cost as much as possible considering that cement production is a high-energy intensive activity.”
Cameroonian govt praises Dangote
In his remarks, Minister of Mines, Industry and Technological Development, Gabriel Dodo Ndocke stated that since Dangote Cement was established in Cameroon, accessibility to cement product, the price and the quality has been enhanced, adding that the impact of the company on the economy is huge.
“Today you can get cement everywhere and the price is accessible for everyone and the market has been open to other investors creating job opportunities.
“Dangote has thrown the market open and before he came to Cameroon, our market was with just one investor in the sector. The presence of other investors has made it easy for us to get cement in a good quality and at an accessible price,” he added.
Similarly, the firm’s country manager, Bertrand Thaïs Mbouck, said the cement company was completing a period of induction, going by the sustainable approach towards growth.
“How I see our company is like a 20 to 25 years sustainable growth agenda. We have to ensure that our strategy is properly drawn and implemented by doubling our commitment, involvement, improving our attitude and everything we are doing. In essence, we are focusing on efficiency, performance and the right attitude in everything we do.
“What has really surprised us in this pandemic is that in comparison with other industries, the cement industry in Cameroon has been improving with positive outcome. We tend to see growth in demand for our product compared to other industries.
“What we have realised in this pandemic, people have focused on some important investments in their life like building a house, as they are not traveling like they used to do. Our team also gave us an additional edge compared to competition. Our workforce has been intensively tracing the customers, tracing the point of sale and that has given us an edge in the market,” he added.