Commissioning Ceremony Of Dangote Cement Plant In Ndola, Zambia

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Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I am very happy to be here today to witness this historic occasion, which is a key milestone not just for the Dangote Cement company, but also for Zambia, Nigeria and indeed, Africa as a whole. It is just over four years ago today, precisely on the 28th of July 2011, that the groundbreaking ceremony for this plant was held.

This event confirms that Africa has come of age, and that Africans themselves are featuring in dictating the pace, as far as economic integration of the continent is concerned, rather than being content to depend almost entirely on foreign investors, as that has been the case over the years.

We are indeed proud of Aliko Dangote for setting the pace, and leading by example in this regard. Before venturing into the rest of the continent, the Dangote group has indeed shown that charity begins at home.

Through sheer hard work, tenacity and perseverance, Dangote Cement has helped Nigeria to not only become self-sufficient in cement production, but indeed, join the group of cement exporting nations.

Of course, this success story can only be possible if Government plays its own part by creating an investor friendly environment, including laws and policies, regulatory regimes, infrastructure, etc. The Dangote Group and other private companies, took advantage of the backward integration, policy in cement manufacturing, introduced a few years ago in Nigeria, to attain success. We recommend this policy to other African countries in areas where they have comparative advantage to stimulate industrial growth.

The Nigerian government will continue to come up with investor friendly policies that will encourage the private sector, as we begin the important journey of diversifying our economy, generating inclusive growth, creating much needed jobs for our youth, and eradicating poverty. Attention will also be given to modernizing and upgrading infrastructure including, power, roads, ports, etc., to lower the cost of manufacturing in particular and business in general.

I understand that this fully integrated plan we are commissioning today has a capacity of 1.5 million tons per annum and will be powered by a 30MW coal fired plants and a total of $40million has been invested in its construction. I also understand that two months ago, the group commissioned a 2.5 million tons per annum cement plant in Ethiopia, and has plans to commission plants in Senegal, Cameroon, and Tanzania over the next few years. By the time the group is done with its African expansion strategy begun in 2008, it will be operating in 16 African countries. This is very commendable, and I will like other Nigerians and Africans to take a cue from Aliko Dangote by investing in Africa.

Aliko believes in Africa and he has demonstrated this by staking the bulk of his investment in the continent. In the process, he has become Africa’s richest business man and created thousands of jobs, which has impacted positive on our local economies. In fact, he is the largest employer of labor in Nigeria, outside the Federal Government.

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the people and government of Nigeria, I want to thank the Zambian government under the leadership of His Excellency, Edgar Lungufor, for opening its doors to Dangote Group, and for creating the enabling environment for businesses like this to be established and to thrive. The world is taking notice of various economic reforms being undertaken by the Zambian government and I am sure more foreign direct investments are on the way into this country.

The investments Promotion and Protection Agreement introduced a few years ago for example, offer incentives and safe guard investments against any future changes in legislation. This is very encouraging as it gives investors comfort and confidence to undertake major project in Zambia. Aliko Dangote himself has informed me that he has already begun the process of establishing a second cement plant in Lusaka. I am calling on fellow African countries to copy this great example of the Zambian government. Today’s commissioning ceremony is a celebration of intra African cooperation and should be the beginning of African economic renaissance.

Africa is the next frontier of global growth, and I want to assure you of Nigeria’s readiness for a leadership role in their economic transformation of the continent. We will continue to give Aliko and other Nigerian entrepreneurs our full support as they venture outside the shores of Nigeria to establish new businesses.

In conclusion, I want to specially thank the Government and people of Zambia for the warm welcome extended to Dangote Cement of Nigeria. Your Excellency, Mr. President, without this welcome, we will not be here today celebrating this success. We will go back to Nigeria with reports of your warmth and hospitality, as I look forward to returning here again for the commission of the second Dangote Cement plant in Lusaka. It is my firm belief that this project will further strengthen the bilateral ties between our two countries.

Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria

Long Live the Federal Republic of Zambia

Thank you and God bless you.