President of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, at the weekend opened his 2.5 million metric tonnes per annum (mtpa) cement plant appealing to African leaders to make the environment conducive for the growth of the real sector as a sure way of creating jobs to reduce poverty in the continent.
Dangote, who was speaking shortly before the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Dessalegn, cut the tape to inaugurate the plant, said that achieving a real economic integration in Africa would require that Africans work together to ensure economic and political stability on the continent.
Besides, he stated that conscious efforts must be made to break down the barriers and borders between countries so as to allow the free flow of goods, services and people.
The businessman stressed the need for a genuine collaboration between the private sector and government at all levels for the much needed real sector growth, noting that there must be deliberate efforts to encourage Africans, not just foreigners, to invest in Africa. “My company, the Dangote Cement, for example, 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. I believe that manufacturing, and not trading, is the best way to grow an economy,” he stated.
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.
“Simultaneously, Dangote Cement is currently 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 on-going 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, makes Ethiopia a beautiful bride to investors.