By Etuka Sunday
The Dangote Group has reiterated its commitment towards partnering various tiers of Governments in the country, in building sustainable, and inclusive economy for the benefit of all Nigerians.
In this regard, the Group said it has concluded plans to scale up investment in the agricultural sector, in response to the on-going public policy focus of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Group made the disclosure on Sunday in Kano, during a ceremony organised to mark it’s ‘Special Day’, at the on-going 40 th Kano International Trade Fair, noting that it particularly, intends expanding its sugar industry.
Mansur Ahmed, Group Executive Director, strategy and governmental relations, who represented the President/CE, Aliko Dangote at the Special Day, hinted that as part of the Company `s support to the development of agric sector, the 3 million ton per year Fertilizer Plant it is developing is set for commissioning early next year.
Aliko said that the Conglomerate also intends kick-starting the developing of six Large Scale Rice Milling Plants to be situated in six northern states namely Kano, Jigawa, Zamfara, Niger, Kebbi, and Sokoto, with a combined total milling capacity of 1.5 million per annum.
He said Dangote`s growing investment in the agric sector, is to complement the existing and continuing investments being made in other sectors, such as: Cement, Salt and other consumer products.
“We are also, as some of you may be aware, significantly involved in the Oil and Gas sector, with an on-going construction of one of the World`s Largest Petroleum Refinery which we hope to commission within the next 12 to 15 months.
“This will not only put an end to the embarrassing importation of products into our crude oil rich country, but will also significantly boost our intra-African trade position”, told at large gathering participants at the event.
Dangote commended Federal Government’s policy, as efforts to bring Nigeria back on track, adding that such policy initiatives are necessary, if the nation is to attain sustainable economic development and poverty alleviation.
“I must also commend the leadership of KACCIMA for the very apt theme of this year’s edition of the Fair: Promoting Agricultural Value Chain for Nigeria`s Sustainable Economic Development.
“Clearly, given the current focus of both the Federal Government and the Kano State and indeed most other states in the country on the Agricultural Sector as the only incontestable route for the revival and sustained growth of the Nigerian Economy, there can be no more pertinent subject matter to which we should direct the attention of all the participants at this Fair.
“This is especially so in Kano which had in the past been recognized as the leading Agro-Industrial hub not only in Nigeria, but indeed for the entire Sahelian region of Africa. I have no doubt that a few of us in this gathering can remember, with some nostalgia I hope, the sights, sounds and smells of a bustling industrial life that hit you as you approach Bompai and Sharada Industrial in the 1960s and 1970s.
“Those bustling industries which were clearly the manufacturing components of a carefully planned Agricultural Value Chain Linkages, including Groundnuts, Leather, Cotton, etc, created the dynamic Kano economy of the 1960s and 70s which helped sustain and consolidate Kano`s long –standing status as the great Entrepot of the Trans –Saharan Trade Route.
“I have no doubt that had our leaders continued to develop those value chains our experiences as people and as a Nation, over the past half a century, would have been incredibly different and certainly much more pleasant” he stated.
He noted that regrettably Military misadventure into the nation`s socio-economic and political development which precipitated the civic war and its attendance oil curse, changed the steady and orderly economy attainment.
“But we must thank Allah for our current leaders and their efforts to bring us back to our sense. For it is incontestable that for Nigeria and indeed for Africa, the route to sustainable economic development and poverty alleviation is through the effective exploitation of our enormous agricultural resources.
“President Buhari `s insistence that we cannot expect to achieve development and modernization until we create the capacity to produce what we consume. It is only by developing our agriculture along its various value chains that we can ensure sustainable, inclusive economic growth that create jobs for the teeming youthful population.
“This is especially true for our State. Indeed it was the neglect of this most sensible strategy that led to the decimation of Kano `s thriving industrial capacity, throwing our huge population of youths into unemployment and the majority of our citizens into abject poverty” he pointed out.
He urged Kano state to re-capture its past economic glory as the current shift towards agro-industrial development by the Federal Government represents a golden opportunity for it to do so.
“Restoring Kano `s once thriving Agro-Industrial capacity is to my mind a golden opportunity for the State to recapture its past glory. This is even truer at this auspicious time when the whole of Africa is turning to look inwards for the peoples `salvation through the on-going African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) Agreement.
“It is my deep conviction that the prospects of African integration and expanded formalized intra –African trade and the restoration of our peoples `past industrial and commercial prowess will, once more, reposition Kano as the great Entrepot of Sub-Saharan Africa.
“But this renewal of Kano Agro-Industrial strategy must also fully imbibe new techniques and technologies of current 21st Century industrial ecosystem in order to accommodate the demands today in restoring which will make the state complete on the global stage” he further disclosed.
Engr. Mansur outlined fours way to re-engineer Kano industrial economy, which according to him, ranges from : implementation of a 10 year integrated industrial plan, developing the existing industrial clusters into a modern special agric-industrial zones, government partnership with the private sector in industrial development, and supporting government initiative to address skills gap in the state.
In his earlier address, Dalhatu Abubakar, president, Kano Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines, and Agriculture (KACCIMA), commended Aliko for being major sponsor and the official face of the annual trade fair, over the years.
The Special Day ceremony was attended by major dealers and consumers of the Dangote`s products from within and outside Kano, as well as representatives of the Kano State Government, led by the Commissioner for Women Affairs, Hajiya Zahara’u Mohammed Umar.