By Chinelo Obogo and Chinwendu Obienyi
AMIDST a surge in demand for cement products across the country, Dangote Cement Plc, Monday, restated its commitment to meeting Nigeria’s local requirement and ensure availability of Cement products to consumers irrespective of their location.
Speaking to the media yesterday in Lagos, the company’s newly appointed Group Chief Sales and Marketing Director, Mr. Rabiu Umar, said Nigeria has moved from importing cement to become an exporter of the product.
Umar explained that demand for cement has risen globally as a fallout of the COVID-19 crisis. Nigeria, according to him, is no exception as a combination of monetary policy changes and low returns from the capital market has resulted in a significant increase in construction activity.
“We got into COVID-19 pandemic last year and immediately after that there was a surge in demand for cement products and this is not particular to Nigeria alone, as a couple of countries across the world are also experiencing the same including Mexico and South East Asia among others,” he said. Umar stated that Dangote Cement was aggressively building up its capacity, having recently invested in a new production line that was completed in Obajana plant and only awaiting connection to the power plant to commence operation.
Commenting on its capacity building initiativeves, Umar said: “… we have a new plant in Okpella in Edo state, that would start operation very soon. For the last couple of years one of our plants in Gboko, Benue state has not worked; we have re-started the plant all in a bid to make sure that there is enough production. We have also increased the capacity of our Obajana plant and very soon, I am sure the market will be flooded with enough products. You also need to note that other operators are also increasing their capacity.”
He explained that, “in every business, what drives prices is demand and supply. Now as a business we have not increased our price up until this point. Therefore, what has happened to price increase in the cement products are basically the forces of demand and supply.”
The Dangote Cement marketing chief said though the company has direct control over its ex-factory prices, it cannot control the ultimate price of cement when it gets to the market, urging consumers to distinguish Dangote’s ex-factory prices from prices at which retailers sell cement in the open market. Umar stated further that the Company was trying to ensure that it increases the product supply in the market, noting that in order to make the product available to end users, the Company was bringing in 2,000 brand new trucks to ease distribution bottlenecks.
“We are buying these trucks and putting them out there to make sure that the distribution is also taken care of. This new development will lead to thousands of direct jobs in the country, besides indirect employments the plants will create.
“Globally, by the time we are done, we believe that the additional capacity we will put on the market compared to what we have in the market today is probably the size of each of our competitors in terms of the additional volume that we will put into the market. And we believe that would help to manage the tension in the country as far as the situation with the skyrocketing prices of cement are concerned.”