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UNICEM wants to increase Nigerian investment; requires government support

World Cement,

In an interview with Weekly Trust, Javier De Benito, Executive Director of UNICEM, Nigeria, revealed that the company plans to invest US$2 – 3 billion in the Nigerian cement market, but will need government support to ease distribution issues related to poor infrastructure.

De Benito added that the company has already started to build a 22 km road, but said that it shouldn’t be the responsibility of the company to provide this kind of infrastructure. He further argued that, despite being an oil producing country, Nigeria’s energy costs are high, which pushes up cement prices and this is something else the authorities could do something about. “We do not actually care about high prices or building this high cost of gas into the final cost of our cement products,” he said, “But we need to have margins in order to help us pay back our loans and to reinvest.”

Unicem is working on a second line at its Mfamosing plant at a cost of over US$500 million. Construction of the line has not yet begun while some administrative issues are being resolved. De Benito gave this interview on the occasion of the company’s annual Safety Week. In 2012, Unicem achieved 70% safety compliance; in 2013 it is aiming for 85%. De Benito told Weekly Trust that the aim of Safety Week is to pass the ‘safety first’ message not only to the Unicem group, but “to generality of the populace and cement industries in Nigeria and the world; that, it is important for all to think and emphasis on safety in their daily and official endeavours.”

Written by Katherine Guenioui.

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