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Developments in Nigeria and beyond

World Cement,

Nigeria’s President, Goodluck Jonathan, is determined that the country will be self-sufficient in cement production by Q1 2012. It is an ambitious goal, but one that the country is well on its way to achieving. In the meantime, debate about how to meet demand in the interim continues. The President is keen that importation of cement is restricted in order to give local manufacturers the impetus to meet demand, as well as a market in which to do this. Due to inadequate infrastructure in the country, imported cement can be less costly than the domestically manufactured product. The President recommends that existing cement companies be allowed to import the necessary quantities of cement to make up the difference between supply and demand. Others fear that this gives producers a monopoly on pricing, which has led to dramatic price increases in recent months, such as when the price of a 50 kg bag of cement shot up to N2800 in June. The government intervened, and prices now range between N1800 and N2000.

In order to ease the transportation of cement, the Ministry of Transport has teamed up with Lafarge Cement WAPCO Nig. Plc. The Lafarge Cement Freight Train Service commenced operation last week.

“It is a known fact that rail transport is very crucial to any nation’s economy, as it has no rival in the volume of people and goods it could convey. I have no doubt in my mind that this singular collaborative effort between NRC and WAPCO Cement would adequately meet the growing demand for cement across the country,” said Minister of Transport, Idris Umar. He added that the wheels are in motion for cement haulage t branch out across the major cities of Nigeria over the next few weeks. Total weekly carrying capacity will reach 2700 t.

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s biggest cement manufacturer, Dangote Group, has announced that it has signed investment agreements for cement production worth US$750 million: US$350 million with the Central African Republic of Congo, and US$400 million with the Ethiopian government. This follows the ground-breaking ceremony for a new US$115 million plant in Cameroon and the signing of a similar agreement with the government there.

Speaking on behalf of the government, the Congolese Minister of Industrial Development said: “The Dangote project is important to our people and our economy as it enables us achieve President Denis Sassou Nguesso’s vision for a robust and diversified economy. The project will help the country significantly reduce the import of cement and even enable us become a net exporter of cement while boosting economic growth, development, job creation and income generation.

“We are proud to have Dangote in Congo and it is a demonstration of an excellent relationship between the governments of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Republic of Congo.” he added.

The investment is set to establish a fully integrated cement plant of 1.5 million tpa capacity within three years.

Speaking at the ceremony marking the investment agreement, Alhaij Dangote said, “This indeed, shows that Africa is gradually taking its destiny in its own hands rather than wait for investors from outside Africa. Investment in the real sector of the economy is the only way that our continent can achieve the much desired accelerated growth and development that we have yearned for.”

The Ethiopian project comprises the construction of a 2 million tpa plant to be completed in 2013. In all, the Dangote Group reportedly plans to develop 50 million t capacity across Africa by 2015.

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