By NBF News

Dangote Cement Plc. has emerged the biggest quoted company in West Africa. The latest ranking of Africa's 'Top 50 Companies', released by IC Publications, publishers of London-based African Business magazine, over the weekend, indicated that Dangote Cement had a total market value of $12.2 billion, as at mid-March 2011, making it the largest company in the entire West African sub-region.

This confirmed an earlier report by 'Stakes 55', an international rating agency, which ranked Dangote Cement as the top quoted company in Nigeria out of a list of 55 companies late last year.

African Business further noted that Dangote Cement, a new entrant on the list, towered above Anglogold Ashanti of Ghana and Nigerian Breweries Plc., which placed second and third, with market values of $6.0 billion and $3.8 billion, respectively, while Zenith Bank Plc., with market value of $3.1 billion, was rated the fourth biggest company in West Africa. First Bank of Nigeria Plc. came fifth with $2.9 billion.

At the continental level, Dangote Cement equally put up a good showing as it emerged 15th out of the Top 250 companies in Africa. The Editors of African Business attributed Dangote Cement's performance to last October's successful merger of Dangote Cement Plc. and Benue Cement Company (BCC) Plc. and the consequent listing of Dangote Cement, the emergent entity, on the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).

The company, which had a market value of $14 billion as at the time it was listed, is currently the largest quoted company in Nigeria, accounting for about 30 per cent of the market capitalisation of the Nigerian bourse. It was also noted that Dangote Group, which is rapidly expanding, has engaged a Chinese firm, Sinoma Engineering, to build its new cement plants both in Nigeria and across some African countries notably Zambia and Senegal, where it invested $500million recently in a cement plant that would commence production before the end of this year.

These on-going expansion activities, the magazine further stated, would boost Dangote Cement's production capacity and enhance its profile. 'This contract is a signpost to achieving the 20 million metric tonnes annual production target our cement division has set this year,' the President/Chief Executive, Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, was quoted as saying in the magazine. 'But the ultimate goal in a few years is to achieve a 26 million metric tonnes annual production capacity in Nigeria , whilst also expanding its presence on the continent by acquiring and developing several cement-producing assets where it sees opportunities.'

The president has projected that by the year 2015, Dangote Cement concerns would collectively have a production capacity of 46 million metric tonnes. This would place Dangote Cement, which currently accounts for over 50 percent of the Nigerian market, among the biggest cement manufacturing companies in the world.

At the World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland, recently, Dangote, who once described Nigeria as one of the world's best kept secrets in terms of providing high rate of returns on investment, charged developed countries to promote investments in African countries instead of providing aids for the continent. His argument is that real investment is the only way the continent can achieve real growth and development.