President of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote
By Crusoe Osagie
President of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, has said the manufacturing sector holds the key to any meaningful economic development.
He emphasised that this is crucial 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.
“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”, he stated, while delivering a paper at the first Ogun State Investors’ Forum in Abeokuta, the state capital.
Dangote, who spoke on ‘Manufacturing: The Ogun State Experience’, as a keynote speaker, noted that manufacturing has one of the highest multiplier effect on indirect employment generation.
He urged Ogun State government to complete on-going gas pipeline, industrial park as well as the Olokola free trade zone, adding that these projects are key incentives to investments.
The foremost entrepreneur also disputed a sub-national report by the World Bank titled ‘Doing Business in Nigeria 2010’, which reviewed the investment climate in the 36 states and the FCT and portrayed Ogun State as an unattractive place to do business.
Dangote disagreed with the report saying from his own experience as an investor in the state, Ogun State is “increasingly becoming the preferred destination for investments in the real sector and is already home to many local and international brands.”
Faulting the report further the Chief Executive of Dangote Group stated that Ogun State, being contiguous to Lagos State, the commercial heart of Nigeria would play a major role in industrial development of the country.
According to him, Ogun state is a major gateway to the West African sub-region with the availability of gas infrastructure and industrial enclaves (Special zones, industrial parks etc.)
He argued that the report did not measure all aspects of the business environment that matter to an investors and all factors that affect investor competitiveness. The report, he added, “does not cover all regulations, and utilises only four sets of indicators.”
Rising in stout defence of the investment friendly climate of Ogun State, Dangote said going by his own experience as an investor of a six-million tonnes per annum cement plant, which is one of the largest in Africa, Ogun state, “Our host communities are warm, welcoming and hospitable. The Ogun State government actively promotes a private sector driven economy; very supportive (permits, consents, approvals etc.)
“Besides, there is the absence of major social challenges experienced in some other parts of the country, like the issues of hoodlums, religious crisis, militant activities, kidnappings etc”, he added.
The business mogul noted that the steady growth in the number of companies investing in Ogun State was perhaps the best indicator of the quality of its business environment
“On our part, we have already commenced the expansion of Ibese Cement Plant by constructing two additional lines, which on completion will increase cement production capacity from 6 mmtpa to 12 mmtpa”, he stated, to the excitement of the audience.
Speaking in the same vein earlier, Lagos State governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola stated that Ogun State was the next investors’ destination with Lagos state almost congested and that given the closeness of the state to Lagos, it would guarantee seamless operation within factories established in Ogun and their headquarters already situated in Lagos.