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Dangote Cement, Africa’s biggest cement producer, at the weekend boosted Nigeria’s export drive with a pioneering export of 27,800 metric tonnes of clinker to Senegal, a neighbouring country in the ECOWAS region.
Nigeria is clearly experiencing a comparative advantage in cement production, which is a case study since the federal government in 2002 announced a backward integration policy for cement producers. The move scaled up capacity of producers in the sector from 11.9 million metric tonnes in 2008 to 32 million MT by 2016. Statistics also show that cement backward integration policy has seen Nigeria move from among top 10 cement importers to a net exporter of the product in recent years.
With the historic maiden voyage at the weekend from its export terminal located in Apapa Port, Lagos, Dangote has gradually made Nigeria, which until recently was one of the world’s largest bulk cement importers, self-sufficient in cement production, and now an exporter of cement clinker to other countries.
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The export of clinker from the Dangote Cement Export Terminal will also place Nigeria as one of the leading clinker exporters in the world. The company is expected to increase the quantity of clinker export to other African countries within the next few weeks, it was further learnt.
Plans are on by the company to increase its clinker exports by 4 million MT to Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroon and Ghana, and other countries in Africa within two years. It was revealed that Cameroon’s clinker need is 82,000 metric tonnes every month.
Sada Ladan-Baki, executive director at Dangote group said the Dangote Cement has an integrated clinker plant of 1.5 million metric tonnes. The Lagos plant is expected to give the company additional clinker required for the plant to sustain production. In a few weeks, the company would be shipping 82,000 metric tonnes to Cameroon in batches of about 25,000 to 29,000 metric tonnes per voyage.
Experts knowledgeable in cement matters say this development would enable Dangote Cement take advantage of the incoming African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), and by so doing, contribute to the improvement of intra-regional trade within the ECOWAS region.
Meanwhile, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has commended Dangote Cement for leading the way for Nigeria to become one of the biggest cement and clinker exporters in the world.
Speaking during the departure of the ship conveying clinker from the Lagos export terminal, Ladan-Baki said the increased export of clinker and cement to other African countries would not only place Dangote Cement among top clinker exporters in the world, but would also boost Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings and reduce unemployment in the country.
“The beauty of what we have done is that we are going to be generating foreign exchange for the country For every batch of clinker we export, the money comes back to Nigeria. The amount we are talking about is not small,” he said.
Ladan-Baki informed that Dangote Cement ranks among top exporters of cement in Africa, generating revenue in foreign exchange running into millions of dollars; adding that the company was still going to do another major clinker export launch soon.
He recalled that few years ago, Nigeria was one of the world’s largest importers of bulk cement, saying that Dangote has gradually made Nigeria self-sufficient in cement production as well as an exporter of clinker to other countries.
He also informed that the company would in the next few days launch its export terminal in Onne, near Port Harcourt in Rivers State. The export terminal would enable the company export clinker, initially to its grinding facility in Cameroon, and then to new grinding plants the company is building across West Africa.
He explained that the development was useful in generating revenue for the company to support its expansion projects outside Nigeria, thereby increase the output of Nigerian plants.
“This terminal will assist Dangote to actualise the full potential of the company’s investment in cement. You know as usual, when the rain comes, sales decline, but not clinker export. This feat by Dangote is going to generate a lot of jobs. The export terminal has already created jobs to many Nigerians. As of now, 100 Nigerians are engaged at the terminal. We are targeting 200 to 300 workers in Lagos terminal alone,” he said.
He said the export of clinker by Dangote will position Nigeria to participate fully in the incoming Africa free trade liberalisation agreement (FTLA). It will also help the country compete effectively with in the clinker export business.
Meanwhile, Nigeria’s manufacturers group, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has lauded Dangote for the premier clinker export feat. The group said the move is capable of boosting Nigeria’s foreign earnings and reduce unemployment in the country.
Chuma Oruche, acting director-general of MAN, praised Dangote, Africa’s wealthiest man, for leading the way in the export of manufactured product from Nigeria to other countries.
“The export of clinker by Dangote Cement will definitely be beneficial to the Nigerian economy in terms of export earnings, job creation and wealth creation for families connected with these achievements,” Oruche said.