Dangote seeks new visa policy regime to promote economic integration
Unfolds expansion plan for its $600m Ethiopian cement plant
Worried by the slow-paced growth recorded in achieving real economic integration in Africa, President of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, has urged African leaders to review visa restriction rules in the continent in a bit to remove barriers to intra-African trade.
According to Dangote, there is a need for African countries to relax their visa policies to achieve true economic integration.
Indeed, he stated that conscious efforts must be made to break down the barriers and borders between countries so as to allow free flow of goods, services and people.
Besides, Dangote noted that plans are underway to commence the expansion of its current 2.5 million metric tonnes cement plant in Ethiopia before the end of the year.
Dangote, while commissioning his 2.5million mtpa cement plant in Ethiopia at the weekend, charged African leaders to make the environment conducive for the growth of real sector, noting that this remains a sure way of creating jobs to reduce poverty in the continent.
Dangote, who noted that the plant, with a prospect of creating about 7000 job opportunities in Ethiopia, would be expanded to cater for growing development needs in the country as well as bridging the demand gap in the export market.
He also stressed the need for a genuine collaboration between the private sector and governments at all level for the much needed real sector growth, noting that there must be deliberate efforts to encourage Africans, not just foreigners alone, to invest in Africa.
“Take for example, my company, the Dangote Cement is currently investing in 16 African countries, with plans to invest in many more over the next few years.
There are a number of other successful pan-African brands today such as MTN, Shoprite and Ecobank. We need to encourage this trend to see more investments in Africa by Africans.
“Above all, there is the need to encourage the private sector to collaborate with governments across Africa, to address the issue of infrastructure deficit, which has plagued the continent for decades”, he advised. He said further: “I believe that manufacturing, and not trading, is the best way to grow an economy.
This event, which we are witnessing today, attests to the fact that we took the right decision when we decided to transit from trading in our home country, Nigeria, into manufacturing, in 1996.
“Dangote Cement is currently simultaneously setting up new cement plants and terminals across 16 African countries, including Ethiopia. This is in line with our long-term vision to become one of the world’s biggest cement producers.
We envisage that by the time we complete all our ongoing African projects, we will be on track to achieving our target.”
He explained that the various developmental projects, including the construction of the continent’s largest hydro-power dam, make Ethiopia a beautiful bride to investors.
While commending the government and appreciating the country’s remarkable economic achievement, Dangote said that the favourable investment climate together with abundant raw materials and sustainable peace attracted him to invest in Ethiopia.
According to him, in addition to supplying 2.5 million metric tonnes of cement per annum to the market, Dangote Cement Plant has also created direct employment for about 2,000 people in the main plant operation and 5,000 indirect job opportunities.
Inaugurating the Dangote Cement Plant established with over $600 million direct investment in Mugher Town, Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalgn said Ethiopia represents a lucrative market and is a destination of choice for investors with a population of well over 95 million people and a growing middle class.
According to the Premier, with the government’s focus on harnessing the competitive and comparative economic advantages of the country, Ethiopia is ready to host more and more quality investments that leave a positive mark on its non-stopping development journey.
He said his government has been taking all the necessary measures to make the country suitable for foreign investment and adequately conducive for local investors.
“I am hopeful that the continued interest and presence of self-made industrialists such as Alhaji Dangote in investment projects in Ethiopia’s diverse sectors and their successful experience can and should go a long way in encouraging local investment”, Hailemariam enthused.
Ethiopian Industry Minister, Ahmed Abetew said the importance of industry for sustainable development could not be over emphasized and that was why the government has accorded the sector a priority.
He expressed the hope that the involvement of Dangote in the cement industry in Ethiopia will play a significant role in cement production.