By Eric Ojo, Abuja
Africa’s richest man and President of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote has reiterated the need to develop and strengthen African markets in order to boost the socio-economic development of the continent.
Alhaji Dangote said the key to Africa’s economic growth and strength is in the development of the regional market, adding that there must be a conscious effort at deepening African regional market by African investors and governments in order to aid rapid growth and development of the continent’s economy.
“Regional markets in Africa must work. We need to continue to transform the structure of African economies”, he said while speaking during ‘One to One Conversation’ at the on-going 5th annual Financial Times African Summit in London.
The Nigerian foremost businessman and entrepreneur noted that Africans must patronize African markets which is why, according to him, the free trade agreements by African nations is the direction to go to strengthen African markets.
Citing an instance of his own experience, he referred to the case of neighbouring Benin Republic where the country continues to import cement from China while his Nigerian factory is only 35 miles away from the border.
“We need to trade with ourselves”, Alhaji Dangote further stated.
He also as spoke glowingly about the prospect of African economy, the free trade agreement and the availability of huge raw materials to attract investors.
The Dangote Group president equally repeated his central mantra for African growth urging the reduction of exports of raw materials to other continent but create greater wealth within African economies.
He alluded to his company’s entry into the Ghana Sugar market, pointing that he is further expanding his sugar business to Ghana for the main reason of helping to revitalize its economy.
“We are going to help Ghana grow its own sugar for the first time”, he assured.
Asked about when the much touted listing of Dangote cement on the London Stock Exchange, he told his audience comprising of investors, business magnates, captains of Industry and African Heads of Government which included President Akufo-Addo of Ghana and Ali Bongo of Gabon, that the listing might happened in 2019.
According to him, all hands are on deck to complete the process of listing, the development which he said is being looked towards for by the business community.
While responding to the question raised by the Editor of the Newspaper, Lionel Barber on difficult markets like Tanzania and Ethiopia, Dangote dismissed the issue of difficulty and re-affirmed his unwavering optimism about investing in Africa.
“Our aim is to always provide jobs and worth. As an African investor I don’t want any investor anywhere in Africa to have a bad experience”, he further stated.