Nigeria will not only be self-sufficient in cement production by year 2010, but also have more than enough to export to other parts of Africa and the world. Chairman of Dangote Cement Company, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, in an interview at the Presidential Wing of the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Ikeja, Lagos, at the weekend blamed the high cost of cement on transportation, adding that by 2010, Nigeria would be producing 28 million tonnes of cement which, according to him, is far in excess of local consumption.
He said: “At present, we have a marshal plan, of which we are setting up 15Mt additional capacity to the existing capacity.
“So we believe that by the end of 2010, Nigeria should produce 28Mt, which is more than we need and we expect to export to Ghana and other African countries that are not producing.”
He reiterated the fact that the high cost of cement, currently hovering between N1,400 and N1,800 per bag, is caused by transportation cost, insisting that the factory price of the product remained N1,100, including value added tax (VAT).
Dangote said efforts were on to bring in about 500 trucks per day of cement after the raining season, adding that the Benue Cement Company was also expected to take care of about 200 trucks per day during the same period.
He also attributed rising population growth in the country as well as long years of neglect in cement production to the present capacity problem Nigeria was currently facing as far as cement production was concern.
“By and large, we have to exercise some patients because cement production in Nigeria was actually neglected for a very long period of time, you know that. We, as a developing country, our population was increasing, nobody was actually investing money to produce cement.
“In fact, we were killing the factory, so as we were progressing in terms of population, the production level was going down and so you expect this to happen.”
Dangote lamented the energy crisis in the country, stressing the additional cost it was adding to production of goods.
According to him, Nigeria’s manufacturers’ production in the country will quadruple within a month if there is sufficient energy, and give people disposable income.
He, however, said the national economy was right on track, as the immediate past government had already laid a solid foundation for economic growth.
He said: “ The economy is okay, it’s doing well. We have a very good sound-footing, and I hope the present government is going to build on that. It is very important for any government to understand that the only driver of the economy is the private sector.