President of Dangote Group of Companies and richest man in Africa, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, has declared that following the successful conduct of the Nigerian elections and the smooth ongoing transition programme, the business community in the country is set to back the in-coming administration of Major General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd).
In an exclusive interview with THISDAY, Dangote noted that by conceding defeat, President Goodluck Jonathan has buoyed the confidence of investors all over the world, which he said is “growing and mounting”, while the investors are keen on coming to invest in the country.
Dangote, who expressed hope in the rebound of the Nigerian economy, explained that the huge potential latent in the country offer a great hope of a stronger Nigeria.
He said the business community would wax stronger if the president-elect tackles some urgent needs of the economy.
He listed the top priorities to include unemployment, increased power generation and corruption.
On unemployment, the richest man in Africa argued that given the high rate of unemployment in the country, the Buhari administration should hit the ground running on this concern especially as it is a nation-wide challenge. He believes there is a need to declare an emergency on unemployment as a way of jump-starting a solution pack for the problem.
“It is a great and pervasive problem in Nigeria. But the point must be made that it is not peculiarly a Nigerian problem. All over the world, there are growing issues of unemployment. And what we are saying is that the in-coming government can achieve a remarkable success in this regard if it declares an emergency on unemployment and tackle it decisively. You know the organised private sector will or should play a key role in this. And that is why we are concerned,” Dangote explained.
While speaking on the imperative of generating and distributing more power, the richest man in Africa urged the Buhari administration to revisit the ongoing privatisation programme in the energy sector with a view to growing the energy capacity of the country.
He reasoned that with increased electricity output, the industrial capacity in the country would increase remarkably and this would in turn increase productivity, which could only be supported by increased manpower in the various companies.
Beside the industrial growth it could trigger, Dangote observed that even the small and medium scale businesses which are dying because of insufficient energy supply, would begin to experience boom again, stressing that “and you never can tell the number of people this segment of businesses can engage”.
Nigeria is currently generating less than 3,800 megawatts.
The Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) was unbundled in August 2013, with 15 new companies taking over its services.
This has been generally compressed into the generating, transmission and distribution companies.
Speaking further, Dangote bemoaned the damage corruption has done to the Nigerian economy. He observed that ‘it is a big cankerworm that has really eaten deep into the fabric of our nation”, adding that “ we must therefore be decisive in dealing with the monster, if we must rescue and grow Nigeria”.
“The malaise of corruption is a threat to the survival of the Nigeria economy, no doubt. We must all therefore rise in unison to tackle the menace both in the public and private sector of the economy. The Buhari-led government can show a lot of strength on this issue by showing direction, by demonstrating commitment to ridding every sector of the economy of this malaise.
“I can tell you that a lot will change in Nigeria if this issue is tackled decisively,” Dangote said.
Dangote is rated by Forbes Magazine to be worth $21.6 billion.
His major businesses span cement production, sugar production as well as several other business concerns. He recently got into the oil and gas sector with a plan to build a refinery with the capacity to process 650,000 barrels per day, thus making it the single largest stream in the world.
Dangote said though the initial plan was to have 450,000bpd refining capacity, he had since gone back to the drawing board to have a bigger plant because he believes that Nigeria as a leading producer of crude oil should also be credited with such local refining capacity.
Describing the present situation where Nigeria produces crude but goes abroad to buy refined products as unacceptable, Dangote had explained that his refinery was ready to reverse the trend just as it has successfully done in other sectors like sugar and cement.