From Uche Usim, Abuja
In line with its business expansion plan, Dangote Group said on Thursday that it is diversifying into the steel sector because of the huge potential it holds.
The company also said it will soon wean itself off currency support from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to run its business.
Dangote Group Managing Director, Mr. Olakunle Alake made the revelation during a panel discussion at the Infrastructure Solutions Summit organized by the African Finance Corporation (AFC).
Penultimate week, the federal government stalled the completion of the multi-billion dollar Ajaokuta Steel Company and said it would outsource it to a private investor under a concession deal.
He said: “Besides the oil and gas project we are running, we are also one of the major stakeholders who have supported the government in terms of the infrastructure tax credit scheme and we are using local banks to strengthen this capacity across Nigeria.
“We have something right now that we are trying to complete. I think that’s the major project and that’s our main focus right now. In a few years we will no longer go to the Central Bank to get foreign exchange for any of our activities, because at the end of the day it’s a double situation, you import products, which means you create jobs in out of Nigeria and you struggle to get the FX.
“You drill for oil, you export oil, you don’t refine it. This way you are just killing the job. Our goal is two things. First, we make sure that we look at things that can be produced locally, we create jobs that way and we create value that way.
“For us, steel is one of the key areas. You remember years ago the government decided steel was big and created Ajaokuta Steel and Delta Steel.
In his address, AFC Chairman of the Board and Central Bank of Nigeria Deputy Governor (Economic Policy), Dr. Kingsley Obiora, said that energy and infrastructure were very important for the growth of the continent.
According to him, “Climate change demands greater robustness from our buildings and infrastructures, and the energy transition forces us to rethink power supplies, transport and housing.
“The key is to unlock new sources of funding both international and domestic. Rest assured that this capital is available. It is locked up in pension funds, insurance companies, sovereign wealth funds and mutual funds. We are limited only by our ability to reduce risk for investors and provide stable, consistent and competitive returns. »
“In fact, why we are all gathered here today by the African Finance Corporation is a good example of that. The CBN has deployed an initial investment of $500 million in the AFC.
“15 years later, the company has a track record of over $10 billion worth of investments in 35 countries. President, launched the Infrastructure Corporation of Nigeria, focused on a world-class infrastructure development vehicle focused on meeting Nigeria’s $100 billion annual infrastructure needs.
Also speaking, the Chairman of the Transcorp Group, Mr Tony Elumelu, strongly urged the decimation of the monster of insecurity currently ravaging the Niger Delta, which has resulted in the unprecedented level of oil thefts that fractured the national economy.
Elumelu said the insecurity was a complete deterrent to foreign investors needed to steer the national storm ship to calmer waters.