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Op Ed

Dangote’s $500m Sugar Complex and National Quest for Self-sufficiency

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Dangote Alerts Public Of Fake Recruitment, Empowerment Scheme

As an avid observer of developments in the global economy, I was taken aback recently when international trade watchdog, World Trade Organization (WTO), recently released its thought-provoking statistics. According to WTO’s data on “Leading Exporters and Importers of Commercial Services for 2020”, Nigeria was ranked number one importer in Africa and 25th largest importer in the world, while Egypt emerged second in the continent and 28th globally.

Meanwhile, the big economies of the world—United States (US), China, United Kingdom (UK), Japan, India, Singapore, that made it to top positions of the “Leading Importers”, also featured on top the list of “Leading Exporters”. The shocking and disturbing aspect of the report that should elicit national discourse in Nigeria is: when it came to ranking of top exporters in the world, Nigeria was conspicuously missing while Egypt and Morocco made it to number 26 and 27, respectively.

These two African countries were rated ahead of Nigeria in exports. This is very pathetic. Nigeria—so-called giant of Africa, ignobly got the crown of infamy as the “dumping ground” of the world, because when you’re consuming via importation without corresponding exportation, your economy is in doldrums. We only export raw crude oil without the capacity to refine—even for our local consumption. We are the only OPEC-member country that imports refined petroleum products.

The million-dollar question here is: how can you export products and services that you’re yet to achieve self-sufficiency in? This is the big national question that African industrial giant—Dangote Group, is providing answers to. From building the largest refinery in Africa—to help Nigeria achieve much-needed self-sufficiency in local refining of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS)—and its byproducts, to igniting what I describe as sugar revolution in the country.

Read Also: Dangote Sugar Denies Involvement in Price Fixing, Asserts 

The ongoing construction of Dangote Integrated Sugar Complex in Tunga, Awe Local Government Area of Nasarawa State, is another industrial wonder to behold. In line with the Nigerian Sugar Master Plan (NSMP), especially Backward Integration Project(BIP)—one of the critical aspects of the Master Plan, Dangote Group via one of its subsidiaries—Dangote Sugar Refinery, is building $500 million dollars worth of sugar complex.

The Integrated Sugar Complex, will comprise 60,000 hectares of sugar plantation and industrial complex with capacity to crush 12,000 tons of cane per day (tcd); two sugar factories with projected capacity to produce 430,000 tpa of refined white sugar—representing about 30% of Nigeria’s sugar consumption.

90megawatts of electricity will be generated in the Complex for the Company’s use and that of neighboring communities, using ethanol. 500km of roads will be constructed to enhance transportation within the Complex and adorning communities.

Another landmark stride of this project is: for the first time in history of Nigeria, drip irrigation will be installed on a commercial scale to substantially improve the yield of sugarcane, and simultaneously conserve water and fertilizer consumption. When fully installed, both plants will have Ethanol Distilleries, to produce ethanol from molasses. The ethanol will be blended with gasoline at Dangote Petroleum Refinery to have greener fuel. You can see the synergy.

The Dangote Integrated Sugar Complex is expected to commence production by 2023, with potential to create more than 150,000 jobs. When fully operational, this project will not only uplift the economy of host state—Nasarawa by enhancing its Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), but reduce Nigeria’s dependence on importation of raw and refined sugar.

Read Also: Dangote Sugar Refinery Reports N26.70bn Profit For 2020

Quoting Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, who was wowed when he visited the site: Nigeria spends between $600-$1 billion dollars annually on importation of sugar and its raw materials alone.

The Apex bank indicated its intention to place importation of sugar and wheat on its forex restriction list because Federal Government considers wheat and sugar as second and third most important commodities after rice, respectively, in its strategic food policy. But there must be a deliberate attempt to localize its production 100%.

Nigeria is one of the sub-Saharan Africa’s largest importers of sugar—seconded by South Africa. To curb this ugly trend, the ambitious project embarked upon by the Dangote Group, is a welcome development and provides ray of hope for the nation’s goal via Nigerian Sugar Master Plan, to attain self-sufficiency in local sugar production.

The impute of this landmark initiative is beyond imagination, because it has the tendency to revolutionize Nigeria’s sugar industry, create much-needed jobs for our teeming youths, reduce pressure on the limited foreign reserves and strengthen naira.

And in the nearest future, delists Nigeria from importers of sugar and subsequently enlists us as exporter of the product. The damning report of World Trade Organization (WTO) rating Nigeria as African number one importer, without commensurate exports—as indicated in the statistics, is not only a denigrating slap on the face of the nation as self-acclaimed giant of Africa, but a validation why Nigeria is the headquarters of highest concentration of poor people in the world.

We cannot sustain an indolent population of over 200 million people—most populated black nation on earth, consuming goods and services of other industrialized cum developing nations via mass importation, without national consensus and consciousness to exit this vicious cycle of unproductivity. No nation becomes great when it cannot compete for global resources with other countries in the world market; riding on the platform of its goods and services.

Read Also: BUA Retracts Claim On Dangote Sugar Price Increment

Nigeria is polarised and divided across ethno-religious gulfs today because we are focused on competing for national resources at the center only, instead of redirecting our energies—not only to achieve self-sufficiency in most of the imported goods but to harness available potentials to attract foreign exchange through massive exports of goods and services. Nigeria’s economy is always at the mercy of international oil prices as a result of our inability to diversify to other sectors.

Nigeria is like a farmer that cultivates only yam, and daily goes to the village market to sell, hoping that price of yam will skyrocket. Anytime there is “yam glut”, the price crashes. His projected income nosedives. He is left to borrow to augment his shortfalls. Yet when he borrows, he borrows for consumption (importation) instead of production—building factories and industrial complexes. The downward spiral of squalor and frustration keeps cascading, resulting in worsening insecurity and mass despondency.

Like Dangote Group is pathfinding for others to follow, industrialisation is the fastest lane towards curbing mass unemployment, poverty, national strife and unleashing entrapped potential for collective prosperity. This is what Dangote’s $500m Sugar Complex encompasses.

It is meant to assist the country attain self-sufficiency in sugar production—and position us for export in the future. Our economy is already in dire straits cum death throes, and should not be allowed to slide to death zone.

My earnest prayer is that through great industrial strides of Dangote Group via its Oil Refinery, Fertilizer plants, Integrated Sugar Complex, etcetera, vis-a-vis commendable efforts of other industrial players, in the nearest future, Nigeria will no longer be rated by World Trade Organization (WTO) as number one importer in Africa without featuring at the apex in the hierarchy of top exporters in the world.

 

By Chidiebere Nwobodo

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Op Ed

Joe Igbokwe: When It’s A Crime To Love Buhari, Nigeria And Igbo Land – by Femi Adesina

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There are millions of us round the country who follow Muhammadu Buhari passionately. Some got enlisted in 1984 when the man was military head of state. Others joined along the line as the principal was Chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) in the Gen Sani Abacha years, or when he joined partisan politics in 2002, ran for President a year later, also in 2007, 2011, and 2015, when he eventually coasted to power.

Over the years, some of the Buharists (as we are called), have fallen off, and even joined the opposition. Yet some others have stood sturdy, steady, resolute, as constant as the Northern Star. Stand up and take a bow, Engineer Joe Igbokwe, the man from Nnewi, in Anambra State.

President Buhari is possibly the most credible politician we have seen in the country in contemporary times, with a magnetic pull that draws people to him in droves. That was the point I was making last week in this column, but which an illiterate journalist with an online medium twisted to say I claimed Buhari was better than Obafemi Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Aminu Kano etal. He succeeded in his mission: generating hateful comments against me, but I leave him to God. For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God to answer for what we have done, including all forms of lie against a fellow man. Our profession, or political and ethnic affiliations would no longer matter then.

We were talking of Joe Igbokwe before the brief diversion. Yes, this man loves Buhari to bits. He loves Nigeria, and he loves his native Igbo land. And you know what? That is now a crime in our country. Igbokwe’s life has been severely and severally threatened, his family hounded, and on October 3 this year, his county home in Nnewi was set on fire.

Igbokwe is a nationalist. His education, primary, secondary and even university he had in the Southeast. But since he got posted for national service in Ogun State in 1985, he had remained in the Southwest, identifying with the people, their politics, their ways of life, while not repudiating his love for his roots in Nnewi, and the Southeast generally. No wonder he is popularly called Agbalanze, after that Onitsha cultural association.

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Op Ed

Rethinking 2023 in the light of Good Governance

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Good governance

2023 is by the corner and as expected, certain assumptions have arisen regarding the suitability of aspirants for the coveted seat of the Governor.

What many have failed to consider in the ensuing agitations for who succeeds the current Governor is that government is a vehicle through which democracy is delivered to the people. And so, those who desire public offices must have been tested and trusted to deliver democracy dividends to the people.

Moreover, given the tempo of infrastructural and economic developments established by the Governor Udom Emmanuel’s administration, only a leader with a foresight equal to that of the present administration will effectively fit into the shoes which will be left behind.

As such, the need to look critically before leaping becomes imperative.

Among the long line of contenders for the governorship race is Sen. Effiong Bob who has been in public affairs from time immemorial.

His credentials indicate an age-long experience in governance which beats that of every other aspirant, and his bevy of connections and intellectual intelligence makes him a top preferred choice for the office.

Sen. Bob is able and ready to serve conscientiously, and should be given the mandate to do so.

Source: Thebrigdenewsonline

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Business

Schools must lay the foundations to bridge Africa’s skills gap

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Dangote Refinery

As African businesses, including my own, seek to expand and boost prosperity across the continent, we face a hurdle that we and our governments must do more to overcome. The majority of those entering the workforce lack the skills required to meet the changing needs of the global economy.

Up to 20m increasingly well-educated young people are set to join Africa’s labour force every year for the coming three decades. As the World Economic Forum has argued, ensuring we have a strong ecosystem to offer quality jobs — and the skills to match — will be imperative if we are to fully leverage this demographic dividend.

By 2030, about a quarter of the world’s population under the age of 25 will be in or from Africa. So the economic prospects not only of Africa but of the world depend on the skills, capabilities and productivity of our youth.

Employers, including Dangote Group, need employees with a mix of strong cognitive and problem-solving capabilities, soft skills and 21st-century — often digital — skills. Yet there is a large gap in all three characteristics.

In a 2019 survey by PwC, 97 per cent of African chief executives said the lack of skills was affecting their organisations’ growth and profitability. We believe Africa will drive the future of the global economy, but if our youth do not have the skills, then how can they do so? This is one of the biggest problems facing African companies.

For Dangote, bridging the gap requires spending extra time, effort and financing on training and upskilling staff, building recruitment pipelines with investments in colleges and, in some cases, hiring from outside the continent. Such extra costs hinder the ability of the private sector and the economy to grow and diversify.

We have been providing vocational training for young Nigerians for a long time. We started the Dangote Academy in 2009 in our Obajana cement plant, where we train more than 2,000 technicians every year. More recently, in partnership with the German Association for Mechanical and Plant Engineering (VDMA) and its Foundation for Young Talent, we have launched a technical training programme in engineering. Many businesses are taking similar steps, investing millions of dollars a year.

But relying on companies and postsecondary training programmes to address the skills gap is not enough. The problems begin earlier in the education system, and investments must go beyond upskilling adults. Government must take a larger role. Quality education relies on an extensive, interlinked, robust infrastructure and ecosystem.

Across Africa, nine out of 10 children do not achieve basic reading and numeracy skills by the age of 10, which creates wide-ranging ripples. A third of students do not complete primary school, more than half do not finish lower secondary school and almost 90 per cent do not make it to higher education. Local conflicts and wider insecurity in parts of Africa, with the attendant mass displacement, further reduces access. The pandemic has closed schools and affected families’ abilities to pay for education. This no doubt has led to an increase in the number of children out of school, estimated at about 15m in Nigeria.

Skills acquired early in primary school form the foundation for later learning and are fundamental to a productive, capable workforce and a strong economy

A large proportion of job applicants not only lack basic qualifications but also struggle with simple computation and comprehension. This hinders their ability to take up jobs we are desperate to offer and impedes those already in employment. Skills acquired early in primary school form the foundation for later learning and are fundamental to a productive, capable workforce and a strong economy. Gaining digital skills, or more rudimentary technical and vocational qualifications, is harder without basic learning.

Governments and business together need to look to the future and set policies and plans to focus on foundational learning. Investing in these basic fundamental skills would allow African countries to enhance productivity, promote greater inclusion and build a workforce that can adapt to the markets of the future and drive prosperity for all.

Policymakers and business should provide retraining and upskilling to the existing workforce, and offer these in areas with vulnerable and disadvantaged populations. They should work together to ensure investments are made in high-quality and effective interventions.

Governments and the private sector must also increase their investments in key infrastructure with an eye on the effects on education, from power to communication, water supply and housing, research and social amenities, and not discriminate by gender or disability. The private sector must give governments clear indicators of future work needs so schools can adapt. There must be increased focus on and investment in foundational literacy and numeracy so students can acquire the skills fundamental to employability.

Together, the public and private sectors have a strong responsibility to accelerate progress. They must work in partnership, make fixing the education crisis a top priority and commit to acting fast. Failure to do so risks perpetuating low productivity, instability in the workforce and poor socio-economic outcomes. Successful actions will mean greater prosperity for future generations, and are the only path to ensure a vibrant, prosperous, productive Africa.

Source: FT

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