Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man and the president of Dangote group, has urged Nigerians not to be deterred by the economic challenges of the moment, but to help the country in building its economy. Dangote, who described Nigeria as an enviable country in terms of resources, said the present economic challenge is just a phase in Nigeria’s journey to greatness. “I have always said it that Nigeria is a good place to invest. God has given us in Nigeria what many other countries don’t have and they keep searching for it,” he said. “We have got fertile land for agriculture, we have the minerals resources and we have oil.
All we need to do is to harness them for our good. “The present challenge we are facing should not deter us from growing our economy. It shouldn’t stop us from investing; it’s just a passing phase.” According to Forbes, Dangote lost $7.8 billion after the naira was devalued in December 2014, reducing his net worth from $25 billon to $17.2 billion, yet he believes in investing in Nigeria. “Other countries referred to as developed started from somewhere; they all experienced some of these challenges in the past. So I want us to see these challenges as obstacles towards attaining greatness,” he said. “If Nigerians do not invest in their country, other people would not come. They will want to see our success story before they can come.”
Dangote is arguably the Nigerian citizen with the highest investment in the country. The Dangote Group signed a memorandum of understanding with the federal ministry of agriculture to provide N165 billion for rice cultivation in five states. The group’s cement company recently added two new lines to the 6 million metric ton capacity per annum at Ibese to shore up its capacity to 12 million, while additional 3 million capacity line is being added to Obajana plant to bring total capacity to 13.25 million tons per annum. It is also about to complete its petroleum refinery in Lagos.
Meanwhile, the management of Dangote Group has said that its focus now is to develop its multi-billion dollars new businesses to an appreciable level this year to meet its completion timelines.
The Group is putting in place infrastructures for business projects such as refinery, gas, fertilizer and rice production.
Dangote Group’s Executive Director for Strategy, Potfolio Development and Special Project, Mr. Devakumar Edwin, said the company was launching all out to ensure that the businesses come on stream as planned.
He explained that though a few of the new businesses have been redesigned for increased capacity, the management expects all to come on stream as earlier planned, inflation, exchange rate and increased bank interest rate notwithstanding.
Edwin said the Dangote Group business models were develop to be one of the biggest, if not the biggest in the world, and that new technologies employed by the company gives it advantage over others.
He cited the Obajana cement plant as the single largest cement plant in the world, while the Group’s sugar refinery plant is the single second largest in the world.
“We are building 650,000 barrels per day oil refinery which will be the largest in the world, and our planned rice production would also be the largest in the world,” Edwin said.
“We do all these because we believe in Nigeria, we believe in her potential and we believe in her economy. We draw our business model with exportation in mind. We believe Nigeria can be self sufficient and even produce for foreign market,” he added.
Edwin stated that the company is focusing on its refinery timely delivery, fertilizer plant equipment already on ground and the gas production is key to the management.
According to him, “Nigeria has a large population, so do many other African countries, and that is why we build all our business model with exportation in mind. We had to review the capacity of our planned refinery and increase it. We have never hesitated to have big plants and that is why we deploy latest technologies in their set up.”
We recalls that Dangote Industries Limited (DIL) had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) to invest $1 billion for the establishment of fully integrated rice production and processing operations across Nigeria.
The signing of the MOU, which was presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan, and the planned investment are in response to the on-going reforms of the President’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) launched in 2011. Following the launch, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has worked with various stakeholders to catalyse increased investments for agriculture with a particular emphasis on private sector investments.
Dangote has acquired farmland in Edo, Jigawa, Kebbi, Kwara and Niger states totalling 150,000 hectares to be used for the commercial production of rice paddy.
As part of the project, Dangote will also establish two state-of-the-art large-scale rice mills each with a capacity to mill 120,000 metric tonnes of rice paddy, bringing total capacity to 240,000 metric tonnes, with plans to double capacity within two years. With this installed capacity, the project will become the largest single investment ever made in rice production in Africa. The rice plant is estimated to produce 960,000 metric tons of mill rice, representing 46 per cent of rice imported into Nigeria.
Speaking during the MOU signing ceremony, President Jonathan had commended Aliko Dangote for building a strong industrial base in Nigeria. “It takes a lot of hard work, commitment and discipline to achieve the feat, accomplished by Aliko Dangote. Today is a great day for Nigeria and this investment is worth the risk. The country is capable of producing rice that can feed the whole of West African sub-region,” Jonathan had said.
Speaking on the country’s porous borders, the President vowed to put an end to the high spate of smuggling in the next 12 months. He declared that the days of smugglers are numbered and that the government is determined to install electronic surveillance equipment that will depend less on human manipulations and interventions. He assured Dangote that his investment would be protected.