Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote of Nigeria, says the continent must make a conscious journey towards self-sufficiency because it cannot continue to import basic needs on a daily basis.
“Are we going to continue to import everything? Freight rates are now cheap but they will go up soon. A population of over 200M cannot continue to import basic needs on a daily basis,” he said during an economic summit in the United Kingdom.
Dangote spoke highly about how Nigeria was gradually achieving self-sufficiency in a number of areas. He cited the area of cement production – which is his main line of business, he also mentioned the areas of fertilizer and rice production.
Aside self-sufficiency, Dangote stressed the need for Africa to master the value chain of production by adopting what he called the backward integration – a manufacturing system that extracts value from entire processes.
Until he entered the cement production business a decade ago, Nigeria was second largest importer of cement globally, “Today, we have not only satisfied domestic needs; we have become a leading exporter of 6-7M tonnes of cement,” he added.
The event at which he spoke is the 4th Annual Africa Summit organized by the Financial Times. The keynote address was delivered by Nigerian President Yemi Osinbajo. The theme of this year’s edition was ‘What makes Africa work.’
Other speakers present were Congolese opposition chief and presidential aspirant, Moise Katumbi and head of Angola’s state oil firm, Isabel dos Santos. It also had over 300 business leaders in attendance.