Voice of Nigeria: Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has called for a reduction in the price of cement, while inaugurating the 350 million dollars BUA Cement Plant at Kalambaina, Sokoto State.
The 1.5 million metric tonnes per annum cement plant built by BUA Group, would provide at least 2,000 direct and 10,000 indirect jobs in the country.
Osinbajo said that two things that required attention in the cement industry was price and embracing usage of cement for constructing concrete roads across the country.
“The price of cement surely can be cheaper. I know the standard arguments such as power, transportation and other challenges, but it is still a lucrative business,” he said.
The Vice President urged BUA Group to collaborate with other major cement manufacturers toward achieving reduced cement price to drive infrastructure development.
Osinbajo noted that inauguration of the plant was a milestone not only for BUA Group, but for the cement industry and the nation’s economy.
“It will consolidate Nigeria’s self sufficiency in cement production, and boost our status as a net exporter of cement. The significance of these cannot be over emphasised as we explore opportunities to diversify the country’s earnings away from oil,” he said.
According to him, after so many years of inadequate attention to national infrastructural development, the next few years will be defining for infrastructural development in the country.
He said that the National Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan estimates that an investment of about three trillion dollars was required to bridge the nation’s infrastructure gap.
This, according to him, will also increase infrastructure assets from the current level of about 35 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to at least 70 per cent by 2050.
“To be where we ought to be in infrastructural development, investment in construction materials is crucial. Cement is of course literally the building blocks for much of the infrastructure that we need in Nigeria from houses to bridges, roads and dams to mention a few,” he said.
Osinbajo noted that Nigeria presently produces more than 40 million tonnes of cement annually, and more cement than any other country in Africa.
“Nigeria’s huge market of high urbanisation rate of 3.5 per cent and even now a low per capital cement consumption of about 125kg and an estimated housing deficit of 17 million, are key drivers for the growth of the Nigerian cement industry in the medium term,” he said.
AbdulSamad Rabiu, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), BUA Group, said that the project would not have been realistic without Federal Government’s efforts to initiate deliberate policies that support key industries in the real sector, from agriculture to manufacturing.
He noted that through some of the policies, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) provided adequate foreign exchange for import of machinery, which was helpful in completing the project on schedule.
“The construction of this plant started three years ago when we engaged SINOMA at the height of the foreign exchange crisis.
“Despite what was termed by some to be harsh economic conditions in the months after signing the contract, we pushed on with steely resolve and a firm belief in the value of this project,” he said.
Rabiu said that the Plant would boost local production of cement with a focus on human capital, social and economic development, with at least 2,000 direct and 10,000 indirect jobs created.
“In addition to this and as the only cement plant in the entire North West region of Nigeria, this plant also holds significant promise for the local markets and has huge export potential.
“Niger Republic is a mere 100 kilometers from here and the Republic of Benin just 200 kms away,” he said.
According to him, as part of the innovative approach to power the factory, it built a 32 megawatts multi-fuel capacity power plant and a coal mill.
“To put this in perspective, this new plant will be generating more power than its currently generated by the entire Sokoto State.
“The plant can run on either coal, heavy oils or a mixture of both thereby putting less pressure on our operations whilst improving energy-efficiency.
“By also using coal to power our kiln, we expect to save over 70% in terms of energy costs compared to if we had to use over 15 million litres of fuel oil per month or about 400 tonnes or 20 trucks of fuel oil per day.
“That would have been a very expensive venture and logistical nightmare but I can confidently say our approach is easier, cheaper and more efficient,” Rabiu said.
Rabiu said that the second line of its one billion dollars Obu Cement Complex in Okpella, Edo State, which was inaugurated in August 2017, would be completed by the end of the year.
“By the time that plant is completed by the end of the year, together with what we have here, BUA Cement’s total production volume will be in excess of eight million tones.
“And that would give us more than 35 per cent of the entire volume produced in Nigeria,” he said.
Also speaking, Gov. Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State, said that the state was endowed with lots of natural resources, which could be explored not only for the growth of the state’s economy but the nation as a whole.
According to him, his administration has worked out blueprints to promote Ease of Doing Business, access to land and tax breaks to attract investors.