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Jonathan inaugurates N100bn project in North-East

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President Goodluck Jonathan, on Friday, performed the ground-breaking of the N100bn expansion project for Ashaka Cement's new 2.5million metric-tonne capacity cement production line in Gombe, North-East Nigeria.

The project, which will be completed within three years, will increase the company's current production capacity of over one million metric tonnes to about four million metric tonnes while creating a lot of jobs.

Jonathan, who was represented by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga, said the new investment was a testimony of global investors' growing confidence in the Nigerian economy as well as the Federalists Government's commitment to transforming the Nigerian economy, leaving out no region.

He said this just as he disclosed that government had commenced plans to bring down the price of cement.

The President reiterated that the current administration would continue to provide a conducive environment for industry, trade and investments to thrive in line with his Transformation Agenda.

He said, “The cement industry is a perfect example of the transformation that can happen in an industry based on the focused implementation of a well-thought out policy and a continuous partnership that harnesses the expertise of the private sector and the capacity of the public sector.

“The commencement of the capacity expansion of AshakaCem Plc's cement production project further buttresses the confidence that global investors have in the Nigerian economy, which is now the largest economy in Africa.”

The President added, “As at 2002, the local cement industry had the capacity to barely produce two million metric tonnes per annum. By the year 2013, this had grown to 28.5 million metric tonnes and we expect the installed capacity to be about 39 million metric tonnes by the end of this year.

“Today, the Nigerian cement industry has attracted $8billion in both local and foreign investments and supports approximately 1.6 million jobs. The industry also serves as the fulcrum of the housing and construction sectors. These sectors now contribute 11.13 per cent to Nigeria's forecast Gross Domestic Product for 2013.”

Jonathan noted that Nigeria had become a net exporter of cement, saying that “this is something that we all should be proud of.”

“I therefore commend all the players in the industry for their focused implementation of the Backward Integration Policy. AshakaCem Plc has no doubt played its own part in the transformation of this industry and I commend them for that,” he stated.

He pointed out that the Federal Government had commenced a plan of action that would promote the consumption and export of cement, enhance skills development and innovation in the industry and bring down the price of cement.

He said, “Having achieved tremendous success in boosting cement production in the country, the government with the active collaboration of all stakeholders has recently concluded work on charting a new strategic direction that would further enhance efficiency in the industry.”

Copyright PUNCH.