By Maryam Hassan
Foremost businessman, Aliko Dangote, has called African investors and governments to deepen the regional market in order to aid rapid growth and development of the continent’s economy.
Speaking during “One to One Conversation” at the on-going 5th annual Financial Times African Summit in London, the renowned entrepreneur said the key to Africa’s economic growth and strength is in the development of the regional market.
He said: “Regional markets in Africa must work.”
“Africans must patronize African markets, which is why the free trade agreements by African nations is the direction to go to strengthen its markets,” Mr Dangote emphasised.
Citing an instance of his own experience, the president of Dangote group 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”, Mr Dangote stated as he spoke glowingly about the prospect of the African economy, the free trade agreement and the availability of huge raw materials to attract investors.
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 happen 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.
Prompted by the Editor of the Newspaper, Lionel Barber to speak about difficult markets like Tanzania and Ethiopia, Mr Dangote dismissed the issue.
He affirmed that “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.”
Mr Dangote repeated his central mantra for African growth urging the reduction of exports of raw materials to other continents, but create greater wealth within African economies.
He said, “we need to continue to transform the structure of 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.