KALONDE NYATI, Kigali, Rwanda
DANGOTE Industries Limited chairman Aliko Dangote has hailed Zambia’s business environment, saying the conducive climate has enabled the private sector to thrive.
Discussing the topic, Intra-African trade as opportunities for leading industrialists during the African Export and Import Bank (AFREXIM) annual general meeting, Mr Dangote said while it has not been easy doing business in some African countries, Zambia and Ethiopia have created favourable environments.
“We [Dangote Group of Companies] have invested in 14 countries and are starting in two others. It has been a rough journey, we have faced many challenges, sometimes legal issues, which could be instigated by competition and have even lasted three years and sometimes you find that the Minister of Finance of a country is the chairman of the competition.
“In some countries, we have had it easy. Countries like Ethiopia and Zambia have been easy to do business,” he said.
In 2015, the Dangote Group, Nigeria’s largest cement maker, commissioned a US$450 million cement plant in Masaiti, helping to bring down the cost of cement in the country by half.
Recently, Minister of Finance Felix Mutati implored Mr Dangote, who visited Zambia, to expand his investments in view of the favourable investment climate and the latter responded in the affirmative.
Mr Dangote said movement of goods and people remains a challenge and undermines the objective of unlocking Africa’s full potential through continental trade thus the need for concerted effort in opening up the continent.
“It is easy for British passport holder to travel across Africa but as an African, I need about 35 visas to go across Africa…Excess documentation also affecting cross border trade,” he said.
He said intra-African trade will also enhance the value chain and the comparative advantage of countries across the continent.
“With intra African trade, there is no need to develop Dangote Cement plants in all African countries but the plants can be developed in selected countries to service other countries within the area, while other projects can be developed in countries based on their comparative advantage,” Mr Dangote said.