At the 11th annual Economist Summit in Lagos, on Monday, March 7th, Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, said Nigeria’s economic reality is being exaggerated and is not as bad as it is being portrayed.
Dangote said this while speaking at the forum said while some businesses faced serious challenges, others did not, in his words;
It all depends on the business. I think people are underrating the economy of Nigeria. They just go and look at foreign exchange because oil has gone down and believe that everything has gone out of the window. That is not correct.
He added that despite what is being described as an economic crisis in Nigeria, his company, Dangote Cement, recorded 47 per cent growth in January and February.
We have seen growth in our sugar business of about 20 per cent. If your business model is to import 100 per cent of your component and just be an assembly plant, then definitely you will face challenges because the influx of foreign exchange is not like what it used to be a year and half ago when we used to receive about 3.2 billion dollars on monthly basis and our outflow was around two billion dollars.
Today, we are receiving just about a billion dollars. In our cement sector, we had that vision and we said let us properly industrialize. By this, we mean that our raw materials are almost 90 percent locally sourced.
So we only need foreign exchange to buy spare parts, pay some of our expatriate staff salaries in dollars and a get a little bit of gipson which is not readily available here.
In Dangote’s opinion, the only option left for businesses in Nigeria was to export.
We now have capacity to export cement worth about 500 million dollars on an annual basis. With that, it means that we are self-sufficient. If you look at most of our projects, they are all very transformational projects because we saw this coming.
In the last ten years, we said we want to do things in a manner that by 2018, we don’t have to go to the Central Bank of Nigeria to ask for foreign exchange. We want to be people who will sale forex to the market.
The 2016 Economist Nigeria Summit brought key government ministries, industry and business leaders, as well as representatives of Nigerian Civil Societies together with international investors, economists and academics to discuss and debate what the future holds for Nigeria and address the challenges facing the Nigerian economy.
The summit had guests and speakers such as; Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, Vice President, Federal Republic of Nigeria; Alhaji Aliko Dangote, President and Chief Executive Officer, Dangote Group; Danladi Verheijen, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, VEROD; Herbert Wigwe, Chief Executive Officer, Access Bank, Nigeria; Okechukwu Enelamah, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Nigeria; Jonathan Rosenthal, Africa Editor, The Economist, amongst others.
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