Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote has inaugurated a new cement plant in Zambia and had the honour of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the ceremony.
At the ceremony on Tuesday, Osinbajo said that human capital development, political stability and economic integration are central to the rapid development of Africa and the emancipation of its people from poverty.
The VP said this in Ndola, Zambia, at the inauguration of the $420 million cement plant and 30 KV coal-powered station built by Nigerian business mogul, Alhaji Aliko Dangote.
The vice president said that the continent needed to free itself from issues that impoverished the people and begin to use its resources to develop the continent.
“One of the key challenges to rapid growth in Africa is extreme poverty; Africa unfortunately remains the poorest continent in the world; the implications are illiteracy, poor health, and low income per capita.
“Consequently, despite our large population our markets are not deep; most cannot afford goods and services; this is a cross-cutting Africa problem but the only solution is substantially investing in human capacity development.
“We simply must spend money on the people; we must spend more on education, technology and healthcare; we must invest in technology, infrastructure to enable our bright boys and girls to hone their skills in the competitive world of technology.
“We must provide benefit for the disabled poor, the elderly poor and otherwise vulnerable; we cannot afford to leave any one behind.”
“With 54 countries and well over a billion people, and the economic bloc cooperating through enabling trade agreements, collaborative tariff regimes, multilateral trade concessions and agreements will open up the fastest growing economy in the world,”
Osinbajo added that Africa must challenge its policy intellectuals, entrepreneurs and politicians to think through what seemed to be the most logical course of action.
He identified “neighbor principle“, a legal jargon, as one that could ensure that the continent derived maximum benefits from proximity and affinities.
“Enough has been said about Africa Economic integration, it is time to act,” he stated.
Osinbajo thanked the Zambian government for providing the environment that would enable Africans to invest in Zambia.
“Mr President, your foresight in approving this project and facilitating its development is commendable indeed and it exemplifies the kind of African leadership that out continent today needs very badly.
“Leadership that understands that a private sector-led economy working collaboratively with a knowledgeable bureaucracy is the way of the future.”
In his address President Edgar Lungu of Zambia congratulated Dangote Group for its courage to invest in his country and for being the most diversified African investor.
He said that his administration would expand trade and investment relations with Nigeria, and called on other Nigerian companies to emulate Dangote Group by investing in his country as his administration was poised to providing investment incentives.
Aliko Dangote, in his address said that the project, the sixth integrated plant commissioned outside Nigeria, was in furtherance of the company’s plan to invest massively in Africa bearing in mind the impact it would have on Africans.
Dangote announced plans by the group to create 16 cement plants across Africa to produce at least 80 million tons of cement and address the infrastructure needs of the continent, half of which would be produced in Nigeria.
He said that the company had set aside $500,000 to support community development in Ndola and that plans were on to immediately set up schools, hospitals, and scholarships for the host community as part of its corporate social responsibility.