Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote stated Monday at the ongoing Financial Times’ 4th annual Africa Summit at Claridges in London, that Nigeria could not afford to continue importation of basic needs on a sustainable basis given its large population and the cost of importation.
Dangote noted that although” Freight rates are now cheap”, “they will go up soon”, adding, “A population of over 200M cannot continue to import basic needs on a daily basis”.
He expressed optimism about the growing internal productive capacity of Nigeria, stating that, “We are not going to import anything any longer.
“In Nigeria we are learning how to produce the entire value chain”.
The business mogul shared welcoming news that Nigeria that was once a heavy importer of fertilizer, was preparing to produce 3M tonnes of locally manufactured fertilizer in a bid to transform the country into one of the largest fertilizer exporters in Africa.
He reminded the audience that In 2007, Nigeria was the second largest importer of cement after the US, but “Today, we have not only satisfied domestic needs; we have become a leading exporter of 6-7M tonnes of cement”.
On plans for further diversification of his business interests, Dangote revealed his attraction to the dairy industry which he said was motivated by the fact that “98% of all milk consumed in Nigeria is imported”.
He said there was need to change this statistic, noting that his company will follow same investment template it used for rice, defined by investment in local farmers and offering to buy back the 1M tonnes at open market prices that they are growing.
“Soon we will be able to feed not only Nigeria but the entire 320M large West African market”, he said.
Dangote stated that by 2100, Africa will represent 49% of the world’s population, up from 30% today. “If you don’t think big we won’t grow at all”, he said. “In Africa you have to play long-term”, he added.
Asked what African countries were good growth opportunities apart from Nigeria, he said, “Aside from Nigeria? I’d have to pick Nigeria. I am a big fan of Nigeria. We are only using 8% of our land”.
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