Jonathan Eze in Sokoto
The federal government yesterday tasked the giant cement manufacturers-BUA Group and Dangote, to crash the price of cement further in a bid to reduce the housing deficit in the country, which currently stands at 17 million.
The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, stated thatÂ Nigeriaâ€™s huge market size of high urbanisation rate of 3.5 per cent and a low per capital cement consumption of about 125 kilogrammes are key drivers for the growth of the Nigerian cement industry in the medium term.
Osinbajo disclosed this yesterday at the inauguration of BUA cement plant in Sokoto. According to him, currently, Nigeria produces over 40 million tonnes of cement annually more than any other country in Africa. â€œIndeed,Â when put together, several other countries still cannot produce as much cement,â€ he said.
Â â€œWe have plenty of capacity to consume cement locally. As mentioned earlier,Â two issues require urgent attention. The first is the price of cement, it surely can be cheaper. I know the standard arguments such as power, transportation and other challenges, but it is still a lucrative business and I know the reduction of price is possible between the major players.â€
â€œThe second issue is concrete roads. We can change the narrative on road construction dramatically if we think through using concrete buildings in Nigeriaâ€, he added.
Meanwhile, BUA Group has announced plans to commence exportation of cement with its recently inaugurated 1.5 million metric tonnes cement plant in Sokoto to neighbouring countries, while also meeting local demands for the commodity.
With the inauguration of the Sokoto Plant and the completion of the expanded plant in Okpella, Edo State, the companyâ€™s installed capacity is expected to hit eight million metric tonnes by the end of 2018.
The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of BUA Group, Abdul Samad Rabiu, stated that theÂ plant holds a significant promise for the local markets and has huge export potential to earn foreign exchange for the country.
Rabiu said: â€œInÂ the event that we choose to export, the Forex savings and potential forex this could generate for the country is huge. We are in aÂ prime position to actually deliver the entire demand here within the North-West â€“ which is our catchment area, and also export; even though at BUA, we have made it a policy to cater first to our home market before we export.â€
He added that the second line of its $1billion Obu Cement Complex in Okpella, Edo State inaugurated in August 2017 would be completed by the end of this year, stressing thatÂ BUA cement investment in Edo State remains the single largest private-led investment in the entire South-south region of Nigeria outside the oil and gas industry.
According to him, â€œBy the time that plant is completed by the end of the year – together with what we have here, BUA Cementâ€™s total production volumes will be in excess of 8 million tonnes and that would give us over 35 per cent of the entire volumes produced in Nigeria.â€
The Governor of Sokoto State,Â Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, urged investors to exploit opportunities in the state through the huge deposit of natural resources, adding that the state has developed a blue print on the ease of doing business to encourage investors and protect their investments.