Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote is keeping true to the saying, ‘Africa for Africans’. Through his Aliko Dangote Cement Company, Dangote has just increased his dominance in the cement industry in Africa by commissioning a new plant in the Congo-Brazzaville. The Congo-Brazzaville plant means that Dangote Cement Company now operates in 14 different countries across the African continent.
The new plant is located in Mfila, a town between two of Congo-Brazzaville’s busiest towns of Port Norrie and Brazzaville. The total cost of constructing the plant amounted to $300 million. It is expected to produce 1.5 million metric tonnes per year. This will see it become the biggest plant in the whole of DR Congo.
Dangote Cement Company partnered with the Congo Brazzaville government in constructing the plant. The President of Congo, Denis Sassou N’Guesso commissioned the plant at a glitzy ceremony that had hundreds of spectators. Also in attendance was the President of the Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, and the Minister of Solid Minerals for Nigeria, Dr. Kayode Fayemi who was representing his country and the Minister of Industry, Trade, and Investment for Nigeria, Dr. Okechukwu Elenama.
Speaking during the commissioning of the new cement plant, the President of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, said that Dangote Cement Company is working towards becoming one of the world’s top ten cement-producing companies by 2020. He said the Congo-Brazzaville plant makes it five cement plants constructed by his company in the past 2 years. He added saying that the 1.5 million metric tonnes to be produced by the Mfila plant will considerably increase the company’s total output, which as at May 30, 2017, was 58.5 million metric tonnes.
Dangote said that the Mfila plant becomes the largest plant ever constructed by his company in terms of installed production capacity. It also puts the Dangote Cement Company as the largest integrated cement producer in the region of CEMAC. CEMAC is a regional body consisting of central African countries that include the Republic of Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Central African Republic, Chad, and Cameroon.
He went on to say, his company was driven by two key reasons to invest in Congo-Brazzaville. The first is to maintain and further strengthen the existing cordial relations between Congo-Brazzaville and Nigeria and between Congo-Brazzaville and the Dangote Group. The second reason is to reduce and eventually replace cement imports into Congo-Brazzaville. Dangote said that for effective development, infrastructure is of importance and cement is one of the basic inputs in infrastructure development. He said Africa faces severe infrastructural deficits and the need for cheap and reliable cement cannot be understated.
Speaking after commissioning the new plant, President Denis Sassou N’guesso said that his country is happy to host the investment; he equated it to an ‘industrial revolution’ in the CEMAC region. N’guesso said the timely investment from the Dangote Cement Company comes at the tight time as the country’s revenue figures plummeted due to a slide in global crude oil prices, which is the biggest contributor to Congo-Brazzaville’s revenue. He said the new plant would help government conserve foreign exchange to use in other sectors of the economy.
N’guesso also added saying in other countries where Dangote Cement Company has invested, other allied industries have followed and it is their wish that the same trend will continue and more investments will follow.
The new plant’s strategic location in Mfila will help reduce imports by intercepting customers before they travel out of the country while serving key cement demand in Congo-Brazzaville’s two largest cities of Brazzaville and Port Norrie.
Dangote Cement Company’s pan African expansion in Congo-Brazzaville will also help reduce unemployment and underemployment in the country. Mfila plant will create 1000 direct jobs and has the potential to create thousands of their indirect jobs. Dangote Cement Company stated that it would give priority to qualified indigenes from the local host community in its recruitment drive.
In addition to creating employment opportunities for the local host community, Dangote Cement Company said from the time it started construction work for the plant, it has disbursed merit scholarships to students at all levels up to tertiary, renovated a hospital, constructed a school, and repaired a bridge along the major highway to a tune of $300 000.
Dangote Cement Company’s next stop seems to be South Africa. It has already entered into a joint venture with Sephaku Holdings owning 64 percent of the company’s cement subsidiary. In September, Dangote Cement Company announced that it had approached South Africa’s biggest cement producer, PPC about a possible takeover.