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How Dangote is industrialising the North

In recent times, the Dangote Group has been rapidly increasing its investments across northern Nigeria, and the region may just boast the credit of having,…

In recent times, the Dangote Group has been rapidly increasing its investments across northern Nigeria, and the region may just boast the credit of having, currently, the larger chunk of the Group’s investments in the country. That credit doesn’t in any way box the pan-African conglomerate into a corner as a local champion, though, as it is a fact that the Dangote Group also has a strong presence in virtually every state in southern Nigeria.
Across both regions, the Dangote Group is the biggest employer of labour outside the government, employing hundreds of thousands of people, directly and indirectly. And beyond  Nigeria, the business tentacles of Africa’s richest man spread through Africa, from neighbouring Ghana to distant South Africa.
Since the Dangote Group commenced cement production in Nigeria with the construction of the Obajana plant in Kogi State, northern Nigeria, it has never looked  back and has racked up to 44 million metric tons per annum from other factories springing up across Africa.
The Obajana plant is the single largest cement plant in the world with a capacity to produce 13.25m metric tons per annum. Besides the ongoing refinery project in Lagos, the Obajana plant is Dangote Group’s single biggest investment in the world.
Another cement plant in the North, the Dangote cement plant, Gboko, Benue State, hitherto a dying, terribly ill-performing Benue Cement Company (BCC) factory that Dangote bought off the Benue State, has been hugely successfully turned around and now produces 4m metric tons of cement annually. Only recently, the cement plant paid a whopping N700m in tax to the Benue State government.
The Group’s activities in the North are highly diversified. Such activities encompass cement, sugar, salt, flour/semolina, pasta, noodles, tomato paste, vegetable oil refinery, packaging materials, logistics, real estate, food and beverages, and the philanthropic arm, the Aliko Dangote Foundation. Its corporate social responsibility schemes in the region run into billions of naira in the communities the cement plants are located in Obajana, Kogi State and Gboko, Benue State. Now, beyond these two states, the Group has been strengthening its business presence in other northern states like Kano, Nasarawa, Niger, Adamawa, Kebbi, Jigawa and Sokoto, and the people are salivating for the Dangote CSR touch. Wherever Dangote goes, the people must smile.
One particular area where the  Dangote CSR has been massively touching lives in the North is education. The Group has built schools where many indigenes of the beneficiary communities have been opportuned to be launched on the path to defeat illiteracy and ignorance.
Besides equipping the youths with just academics, the President of the Group, Aliko Dangote, saw the need to also equip them with technical and management expertise. To that end, the Group established the Dangote Academy in Obajana in 2010 to provide training in technical and management skills for employees and people wishing to join the Dangote Group. The Academy was created following the realisation that university graduates cannot meet the standard required to run a technology-based conglomerate that the Dangote Group is.
Another area where the Dangote Group has impacted heavily on the North, this one not in CSR but in investments to produce thousands and  thousands of direct and indirect jobs, is agriculture. The Group is investing heavily in the sector principally because, according to it, it is motivated by the desire to empower Nigerians by creating jobs and making Nigeria self-sufficient in many items it can locally produce but has been importing.
The Group is investing massively in production of fertilizer, rice, tomato paste and sugar, among others, in plants, mills and hectares and hectares of farms in virtually every state in the North. Its foray into agriculture and food processing business began in 1997 when it keyed into the backward integration policy of the federal government in the sugar sub-sector of the nation’s economy.
An enormous investment by the Group in the North is the $20m tomato production company in Kano State. The factory is the first of its kind, with a state-of-the-art facility that produces tomato paste. Aliko Dangote has never hidden his resolve to stem importation of tomato paste from China and save Nigeria billions of dollars spent in this area, hence the establishment of the plant. The country imports about 300,000 tons a year worth $360m from China alone.
According to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Nigeria produces about 1.5m tons of tomatoes a year, of which about 900,000 tons rot before it gets to the market due to poor roads and storage facilities. The top three producers of tomatoes in Nigeria are Kaduna, Sokoto and Gombe states, all in the northern part of the country, according to data from the Nigeria Agribusiness Group.
The Dangote tomato plant, designed to produce 1,200 metric tons per day, was built following a 2011 Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) study that showed it was cheaper to process tomato paste locally than import from China. Dangote’s factory can produce more than 400,000 tons of paste annually, with most of its raw material coming from farmers in the Kadawa Valley in Kano State.
Farmers will receive a guaranteed price of about $700 per ton, compared with an average of less than $350 they have been getting, according to estimates by the CBN, which helps to organise the farmers and arrange credit for them from banks.
The sugarcane investment of the company is also expected to create jobs for hundreds of thousands of outgrower farmers in the North, especially in Sokoto, Kebbi, Jigawa, Taraba, Adamawa, Kogi and Kwara states which will be working on the 100,000 hectares the Group has acquired. 
The Dangote Savannah Sugar in Numan, Adamawa State, is also quite an immense investment. The federal government had established the company in 1975 as an integrated sugar company with capacity to produce 55,000 netric tonnes of white sugar. But the company was producing so epileptically and was in the throes of death when Dangote rescued it by acquiring it in 2003.
Only recently, Dangote Sugar signed a landmark $700m Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) agreement with the Nasarawa State government on establishing an integrated sugar complex in Tunga, Awe local government area of Nasarawa State. The complex comprises 60,000ha sugar plantation and two sugar factories with capacity to produce 430,000tpa of refined white sugar, representing about 30 per cent of the country’s consumption. It will be the largest sugar plant in Nigeria. The project will also provide an estimated 30,000 jobs. Already, a sum of N250m for the development of the Tunga community is being provided in line with the Dangote Group CSR philosophy. There is also another integrated sugar investment by the Dangote Group in Lau, Taraba State.
It is not all sugar: the Dangote thinking is all-inclusive. It was no surprise when Aliko Dangote fumed about the huge amount Nigeria is spending on importation of dairy products. He has disclosed he would be investing in dairy farming to boost milk production and consequently put an end to the importation of milk. Yet in another diversification initiative, the Group is investing in coal mining in Kogi State.
Another Dangote investment in the North is Dangote flour mills located in Kwara and Kano. In southern Nigeria, the Group also has flour mills in Calabar and Lagos. The flour mills company has three subsidiaries – Dangote Pasta Limited, Dangote Agro-Sacks Limited and Dangote Noodles Limited.
Dangote has also spread its wings to the real estate business in the North with numerous estates in Kogi, Adamawa, Benue, Kano and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
While the country has been clamouring for self-sufficiency in food production with mere rhetoric without action, the Group has held the bull by the horn through its massive investment in rice production. It has ordered six 100-ton capacity milling machines which will be installed within the next 12 months in Jigawa, Sokoto, Zamfara, Niger, Nasarawa and Kogi states.
This, it is hoped, would revolutionise the sector as 1m tons of rice is estimated to be produced by the Dangote Group alone. Nigeria’s consumption annual average is 7m metric tons. Only 2.7m metric tonnes is produced by the farmers in Nigeria, which leaves a gap of 4.3m metric tonnes to be cushioned through importation.
Today, the pan-African conglomerate has three subsidiaries listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE). They are Dangote Cement Plc, Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc and NASCON Plc. Together they account for about 25 per cent of the market capitalisation on the NSE.
The Group has 30,000 direct employees and provides indirect employment to scores of thousands of others who are engaged in activities relating to its businesses.
Dangote Cement has presence in 18 African countries and this number, according to Aliko Dangote, is expected to grow substantially in the not-too-distant future. In 2015, six new plants in Tanzania, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Senegal, South Africa and Zambia commenced operation, while 12 MoUs for a total contract sum of over $4bn were signed.
Aliko Dangote has continued to touch lives by providing human basic needs through a world-class enterprise that is passionate about enhancing the standard of living of people. The people of Northern Nigeria have a lot to appreciate in this great entrepreneur and  philanthropist, going by the Group’s massive investment in the region, as do the entire Nigerian nation and Africa continent.


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