Gambia minister refutes reports on Dangote licence

Gambia minister refutes reports on Dangote licence
Published: 18 February 2016

Tagged Under: Gambia Dangote Cement 

Gambia's Information Minister, Sheriff Bojang, has refuted claims that Dangote Cement was denied a licence to establish a local cement plant, explaining that such an investment was never on the cards given the west African country's lack of raw materials.

In December 2015 an African news agency reported that Dangote had secured land and started implementing equipment for a new cement plant project in Gambia, but that the said licence was subsequently blocked to protect domestic cement importer Gacem Ltd. The report added that Dangote had to transfer the investment to neighbouring Senegal. The story was reproduced in some Nigerian and Senegalese media, as well as anti-Gambian government news sites.

Cement project 'never discussed'
Mr Bojang has since slammed the claims, describing the reports as “false and baseless." Clarifying the situation, the minister said he had been informed by the Gambia Investment Agency that it had been engaged by the Dangote Group in 2011 and 2012 on discussions that centred on investments in the groundnut, juice manufacturing and electricity generation sectors. “Cement was never discussed as an area of interest as the Gambia was not deemed to have the raw materials needed for such an activity,” he underlined.

Mr Bojang explained that the aformentioned talks on the other aforementioned industries had involved various visits to Dangote’s head office by Gambian officials, and by Dangote senior officials to the Gambia capital, Banjul, which culminated in the Dangote Group's vice president visiting Gambia in February 2012.

Encouraging greater regional trade and integration
He further stressed that Gambia is an investment haven for Nigerians, noting that country president Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya AJJ Jammeh, Babili Mansa had recently told a forum that Nigerians are the single biggest foreign investors in Gambia. “And we as a government encourage and put a high premium on greater regional trade and integration,” Mr Bojang concluded.