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Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, has said the pace of industrial growth in East Africa is bound to increase with his recent investments in the region.
Dangote recently inaugurated a state-of-the-art cement plant valued at N78.8bn and 30-megawatt coal-powered energy plant in Masaiti district of Ndola, Zambia and already, there are a lot of expectations about the number of jobs that will be generated by the cement plant and related industries that are bound to spring up.
With investments running into billions of naira, Dangote has expanded into Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Zambia and according to a statement credited to him on the development, there are more projects lined up for execution before the year runs out.
Dangote feels the region has been starved of investment for a while. According to him, it is the duty of Africans to drive investment on the continent.
He declared, “We are strong advocates of Africans investing in Africa and we are for now using the cement sector, which is a key indicator of the state of economic development on the continent, as our launch pad.”
In a speech posted on his Facebook portal, Zambian President, Mr. Edgar Lungu, lauded Dangote for setting up the cement plant and also investing in the mining industry, infrastructure, equipment and other auxiliary services in the region.
The Zambian president envisaged more industries opening up, spurred by the projects, and leading to more jobs for the country’s citizens.
He said, “What we are witnessing today is a clear demonstration of the confidence investors have in the Zambian economy. I am confident that the sustained economic growth the country has attained in the last 10 years is a good sign that we are heading in the right direction.
“My sincere hope is that with this project operating at its full capacity, we will see related industries mushrooming around this plant for forward-and-backward linkages.
“Some of the industries I have in mind are the manufacture of lamp posts, railway sleepers, culverts and blocks.
“Others are the manufacture of pavers which will accord well with my government’s programme on pave Zambia.
“A project such as this cement plant is critical to supporting the unprecedented pace of infrastructural development being undertaken in the country such as the construction of dams, roads, hospitals, schools, airports, among others,” he added.
For Dangote, the project is significant for being one initiated by an African in Africa.
He stated, “Though this is a significant milestone for us as a company, we are also excited by the fact that it is an African company that is spearheading this economic revolution in a sister African country.
“This shows that Africa is gradually taking its destiny in its own hands rather than continuing to wait for investors from outside the continent, as has been the case in the past.”
According to him, the belief that Africa’s future growth is intrinsically linked to cement as the most basic input into building infrastructure has motivated the setting up of cement industries in 16 countries across the continent.
He added, “In due course, we will consider investing in other key sectors of the African economy. We believe this is the only way that Africa can achieve the much desired double digit growth rates, which will enable us to catch up with the rest of the world.”
Dangote in his speech also recalled the enormous support he received from the Zambian government in terms of tax rebates and other incentives.
He affirmed that the government had been instrumental to creating the enabling environment for his industrial ventures in the region.
In his speech made available to our correspondent, Nigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, who flew to Zambia to inaugurate the plant, said the Federal Government was proud of Dangote.
Osinbajo said, “The spotlight today falls very deservedly on an exceptional African entrepreneur, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger.
“It is to his phenomenal vision, entrepreneurship and commitment to the development of Africa and Africans that we are here today to inaugurate this cement plant.
“Alhaji Dangote is a Nigerian from Kano State and he is a pan-Nigerian and pan-African who has done us all proud and his companies spread over 16 African countries, are a signal of an African multinational enterprise.”
Dangote cement plant in Zambia, coming after those of Senegal, Cameroon, South Africa and Ethiopia, is the fifth plant to be inaugurated in one year.
A diplomat who spoke during a similar inauguration in Ethiopia said, “I am very proud of what Dangote is doing by promoting intra-African investments, promoting regional development, industrialisation and cohesion among African nations with his investments.”
At the inauguration of its $300m Greenfield cement plant in Senegal, the Senegalese government promised all assistance required for the plant to perform maximally as its entry into Senegal had stirred up economic activities in the country.
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