HARARE, August 31 (The Source) – Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote on Monday announced plans to build a 1,5 million tonne cement plant in Zimbabwe, double the current output from the country’s three major producers.
Dangote arrived in Zimbabwe on Monday morning, on a visit which will see him meeting senior government officials as he scours investment opportunities in the southern African country.
“We want to set up an integrated cement plant here that will be bigger than all the plants that we have. We look at setting up something that can translate into a million and half tonnes so that even when we continue to use cement, there won’t be a shortage of cement here. We will make cement available,” Dangote told journalists as he emerged from a meeting with Zimbabwe’s vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Last week, the Dangote Group announced a $1,48 billion deal with Chinese firm Sinoma for the construction of cement plants in several African countries.
The Dangote Group is on a drive to double its cement producing capacity from the current 50 million tonnes by 2020.
The group has lined up cement plants in Kenya, Zambia, Senegal, Niger, Mali, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire Ghana and Nepal.
After what he described as a “very good discussion” with Mnangagwa, Dangote said his group would send a team to Zimbabwe next week to explore the opportunity further.
Responding to questions on when his group’s Zimbabwe cement plant would be built, Dangote said much rests on how quickly relevant permits would be issued.
“If we get it this year we will start construction by first quarter next year. We will move in very fast. It all depends with the government,” he said.
Zimbabwe’s three major cement producers have a combined current capacity of 1,46 million tonnes. Pretoria Portland Cement has 760,000 tonne capacity, Lafarge 450,000 tonnes and Sino-Zim Cement 250,000 tonnes.
PCC expects to add 700,000 tonne cement capacity from its new Harare plant, expected to be commissioned in 2016.
The Dangote Group’s planned investment would be a significant coup for President Robert Mugabe’s government as Zimbabwe has been shunned by foreign investors who cite controversial policies such as the seizure of white-owned farms to resettle landless blacks as well as an ownership law which requires black majority shareholding.
Zimbabwe, with its diverse natural resource base, punches well below its weight in investment stakes, pulling in less than 1 percent of all foreign direct investment going into sub-Saharan Africa.