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The Dangote Group on Sunday started constructing a one billion dollars cement factory in Okpella, Edo State, to expand its cement production in Nigeria.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the six million metric tonnes per annum (mmtpa) Okpella plant and the upcoming six mmtpa plant in Itori, Ogun State will increase the company’s local production capacity to 41 mmtpa annually.

The Okpella project, which is to be constructed within 26 months, will provide 6000 direct jobs and 45,000 indirect jobs in the community.

Dr Kayode Fayemi, the Minister of Solid Minerals, said at the ground breaking ceremony at Okpella on Sunday that the cement plant was an evidence that the diversification agenda of the Federal Government was already working.

Fayemi said that the cement plant would be a model that would bring positive changes to the nation’s solid minerals sector in the areas of job creation, foreign exchange earnings and local content promotion.

He said that mining sector was currently contributing 0.34 per cent to the GDP and had potential to contribute over 25 million dollars annually to the economy by 2025.

Fayemi advised other investors to take a cue from Dangote’s commitment and support to transform the nation’s economy through active participation.

Dr Okechukwu Enelamah, the Minister for Trade, Industry and Investment, commended the expansion drive of Dangote Group through its commitment to liberate the country from cement importation, increased job creation and foreign exchange earnings.

“Dangote Group is the second largest employer of labour in the country, se‎cond to the Federal Government.

“‎The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Investment will continue to partner with Dangote in providing the necessary support for investment growth in the country,” Enelamah said.

Enelamah was represented by Hajiya Aisha Abubakar, the Minister of State for Trade, Industry and Investment .

Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Chief Executive Officer of Dangote Group, said that local cement manufacturers were saving the country three billion dollars annually through cement import substitution.

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“The additional investment in the sector will guarantee that we always meet local demand as well as surplus for export and foreign exchange generation.”

Dangote urged other investors to explore investment opportunities in the country considering the Federal Government’s readiness to resuscitate the industrial sector through investment friendly policies.

“A key factor that drives investments in an economy is the presence of an investor-friendly business climate.”

Dangote said that economic reforms in the areas of tax, innovations in rural finance and investment in infrastructure created the enabling environment that made him consider investing in Edo State.

“Nigeria is a growing economy. Our developmental challenges are quite enormous and will require the combined efforts of government and private sector to overcome them.

“It is in this light that we are here to contribute our own quota to transforming the economy of Edo State as we have done elsewhere.

“This project is only one of our several successful projects presently ongoing in parts of the country and outside in more than 15 other locations in African countries in line with our Pan African investment strategy,” Dangote said.

Gov. Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State said that the establishment of the cement plant would increase the internally generated revenue of the state and reduce its dependence on federal allocations from oil wealth.

Alhaji Yusuf Dirisu, the monarch of Okpella, commended the commitment of Dangote Group to the establishment of the plant, while pledging the community’s support to provide enabling environment for the investment to thrive.

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