Alhaji Aliko Dangote
President of Dangote Group and member of the National Economic Management Team, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, has urged Nigerian businessmen to invest in the country and delve into manufacturing, as a sure way of reducing unemployment and poverty among the people.
Also, investing in the local economy, according to him, would help in reducing inflation which has reduced the purchasing power of Nigerians.
Speaking at an investment forum in London, the foremost entrepreneur challenged Nigerians to look inward and invest, adding that opportunities abound within the national economy for investment to thrive better than many foreign countries.
To him, doing so would not only stimulate the economy by adding to the number of jobs created but it would also yield good returns on investments pointing that the destiny of Nigeria as a country is in the hands of Nigerians themselves.
Dangote noted that the government of President Goodluck Jonathan was desirous of seeing many Nigerians embrace the on-going economic transformation agenda of the administration and put efforts together to lift Nigeria’s economy through investments in manufacturing.
He stated that the sector holds the key to any meaningful economic development if Nigeria is to be ranked amongst the top 20 economies of the world in 2020 (Vision 20:2020) as being targeted by the Federal Government.
Said he; “the manufacturing sector is critical to the actualisation of this vision. It is one of the most powerful engines for economic growth as it acts as a catalyst to transform the economic structure of a nation”.
Dangote stressed that manufacturing had one of the highest multiplier effects on indirect employment generation and urged government at various levels to see to the provision of infrastructure to ease the burden on businesses and serve as incentives to investors.
To this end, he disclosed that his business conglomerate has put in place and would not deviate from its growth strategy of organic expansion and development of Greenfield projects to make Nigeria net exporter of basic products to save her foreign earnings.
In doing this, he pledged that Dangote Industries Limited would extend its policy of import substitution to cover other sectors like sugar, wheat, and salt by investing in production to meet consumption needs and export purposes, thereby removing the country from the list of importers of the commodities.
He explained that although the move would be fraught with challenges, but with the right government policies in place, the basic products could be produced to local taste and improved upon with time for export later. He added that all that would be needed would be motivation and encouragement by government through provision of conducive operating environment.
Dangote maintained that there were so many things Nigeria has no business importing but because there were no deliberate efforts to task the local entrepreneurs to venture into their production massively, adding that governments have lots to do to encourage indigenous investors.
“Within the last one year, we have had combined production output to meet local needs in cement; we in Dangote are now planning to replicate this achievement with import substitution strategy in sugar, salt and wheat. Nigeria has no business importing sugar. About $1.7 billion will be spent this year to import wheat from the United States. We certainly cannot continue like this.
“Government has to look at the infrastructural deficit in the manufacturing sector. For instance, the gas used by companies in Nigeria is much more expensive than anywhere else in Africa. Nigerian companies pay four times more than the cost of gas in Egypt and Algeria”, he stated.
He insisted that it was only manufacturing that could pull Nigerians out of poverty through job creation and government must find ways of dealing with the lack of infrastructure which make locally produced products unable to compete with imported foreign goods.
Dangote therefore appealed to government to review some of the policies that are out of tune with the present day reality in the manufacturing sector, fine tune them and be firm in their implementation, expressing regret that Nigeria ought to have gone beyond where it is in local production of goods.