Nigeria’s Federal Government’s aim of ensuring self-sufficiency in cement production through a shift away from bulk importation may soon be achieved.
Notable moves in this regards, in recent years, include Obajana Cement Company, a greenfield project of the Dangote Group, located in Kogi State, which commenced operations in 2006, in addition to such efforts as the group’s investments in Ibese, Ogun State, and Benue Cement Company. Within the past year also, the board and management of Lafarge Cement WAPCO Nigeria have also embarked on an ambitious, “foresighted” expansion project tagged “Lakatabu,” a Yoruba word to describe an elephant, which its brand of the Portland cement, at its Ewekoro plant.
With the ongoing investments in cement production in Nigeria, among these and others not publicized, it is expected that the country will between next year and 2012 move close to meeting demand for the product. Observers have however noted that despite the capacity so far achieved, the price of the product is yet to significantly drop as envisaged at the beginning.
There are those who have also raised issues regarding a rising monopoly, which may at the end defeat the entire purpose, arguing that healthy competition should be encouraged prevent the advent of private monopoly in such a critical industry as cement. Some others believe that government can check this by enacting proactive laws that would not inhibit entrepreneurship, but ensure that all play by rules for common good.
BCC and Lafarge WAPCO are the only two quoted on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), making efforts to increase their capacity in line with local demand. Expectations are, however, that the other companies in the Dangote Group would seek quotation in the coming months, to give Nigerians an opportunity to become part owners. Such a move would equally further boost the market capitalisation of the NSE, where Dangote remains a key stakeholder.