By Modupe Gbadeyanka
President of Dangote Industries, Mr Aliko Dangote, has disclosed that his business estate would start selling foreign exchange to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) by 2020.
Mr Dangote said this in Lagos on Monday at the Nigerian Economic Summit organised by Economist Events, an arm of The Economist of London.
“We are looking at a situation that by 2020, we will be the one selling FX to the CBN. Our projects are mainly import substitution. We are working to be self-sufficient to grow about a million tonnes of rice over the next five years,” the business mogul said.
He also said that his company should be able to generate about 12,000 megawatts of electricity for the country by 2018.
“Our gas project would have our gas pipelines on the seabed. The output should be able to provide about 12,000MW of power. We see a lot of transformation when we are done with most of our projects by 2018.
“We have 15 countries in the ECOWAS community that are duty-free. The export market is big and profitable if you have the capacity. Players in the manufacturing (sector) should be encouraged to export if they have the capacity. We must also meet local consumption,” he said at the occasion.
Mr Dangote further pointed out that, “This is the right moment to pursue the diversification of the economy, which we have been talking about. I know that once oil gets back to $80 per barrel, we will go back to the same misbehaviour.
“But I think this is the right time for that. Government must come up with the right policy, because if we don’t do it now, we may not do it. But low prices do not mean doom. In 1998-1999, the price of oil was $9. What we need to do is just to block the leakages and pursue diversification.”
He added that, “There are some areas where we are facing serious challenges and there are some where we are not.
“It depends on your business model. If your business model is to import 100 per cent, definitely, you will be facing challenges, because the inflow of foreign exchange is not where it used to be a year and a half ago.”
Also speaking at the event, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr Okechukwu Enelamah, said the Federal Government was focusing on creating an enabling business environment to attract investment and fast-track industrialisation.
“The key is to create the right incentive, regulation and policy so that people can work with them and do more locally than just importing. The other thing I should mention is that Nigeria has an industrial revolution plan developed by the last government, but the plan needs to be revisited.
“We need to look beyond the rhetorics and actually implement what we are talking about, because I believe that if we implement them, we will get better result,” Mr Enelamah said.
On his part, the Group Managing Director of Access Bank Plc, Mr Herbert Wigwe, pointed out that, “We have a lot of manufacturers who have to rely on forex for their raw materials but who are going through tough times.
“However, are there opportunities? I believe there are. I think it is time for us to move towards import-substitution. But I think we need to do things to support the supply side of forex and liberalise the market.
“Even for those who have to source their raw materials locally, there is a value chain effect. If the entire value chain in a production process is not sorted out, we will have a problem. So, access to foreign currencies for raw materials is important. However, it is important that people start looking at how to use local raw materials to produce.”