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Dangote Cement Hits Cameron Market 

By Joe Dinga Pefok

The much awaited 42.5 R grade cement from the newly constructed multi-million dollar plant of Dangote Cement Cameroon SA,has finally hit the Cameroonian market.

The plant located at ‘Base Elf’ on the banks of the River Wouri in Douala,is part of the Dangote Group of Nigeria, which has as President/Chief Executive, Ahadji Aliko Dangote, who is currently rated as the richest man in Africa.
Speaking on April 9, at a press conference in Douala, the General Manager of Dangote Cement Cameroon SA, Abdullahi Baba, said the trial runs of the newly constructed cement plant, which started in late December 2014, were highly successful. He stated that the trial runs were monitored by both internal and external experts, among who were experts from the State institution in charge of quality control, ANOR.

Baba said,after several trial runs, the experts were unanimously satisfied beyond doubts that everything was in perfect order and the green light was given for the company to start production.

He disclosed that cement grinding at the plant effectively started on January 28, and that cement from the plant started entering the Cameroonian market on Mach 14. Baba was quite pleased with the fact that the reactions of the market, including the reactions of cement professionals (block makers, masons, and retailers),to Dangote Cement, have been very positive.

The General Manager said Dangote Cement Cameroon SA has kept to the promise to produce very high quality cement (3X or 42.5 R grade) and sell at a comparatively low price. Baba boasted that the price of the high quality Dangote Cement on the Cameroonian market is lower than the prices of low quality cement on the same market. He said one of the main targets of Dangote Cement in 2015, which is its first year of operation, is to grab at least 30 percent of the cement market in Cameroon.

200 Trucks To Be Imported

The GM also disclosed that the company is starting with a total of 170 distributors nationwide. But he explained that, as a new company in the country,Dangote Cement Cameroon SA cannot yet say, with certainty, as to who is a serious distributor and who is not. Baba disclosed, yet, that, over time, they will evaluate the performances and character of the 170different distributors and will finally maintain only those considered to be serious.

Still on the aspect of distribution, the Head of Sales and Marketing at Dangote Cement, Philippe Pidy Kobba, stated that the company has put the 10 Regions of Cameroon into five distribution zones. The Southwest and Littoral Regions and the town of Kribi in the South Region, are in one group, while the Northwest and West Regions are another group. Kobba explained that, in a bid to ensure that things are done in an orderly manner, not all the 170 distributors started doing business with the company on day one. He said a total of 40 distributors in all the 10 regions of the country have, so far, started with purchase, and that the number will be doubled by the end of this month. The distributors are currently using their own trucks.

Baba revealed that the mother company, the Dangote Group, has approved the purchase of 200 trucks as logistic support for the distribution of cement throughout Cameroon. He explained that the Dangote Group has a policy that when it is producing something in any country, the entire population of that country, including those in rural areas, should have equal access to the product. He said,it is for this reason that the Dangote Group has approved the purchase of as many as 200 trucks to facilitate distribution in Cameroon. Baba said the first set of 100 trucks is expected to arrive in Cameroon in the next few months.

290 Workers

The GM, as well, disclosed that the company has, so far, recruited a total of 290 workers, among them a number of expatriates, and 110 of Cameroonians who have been directly recruited by the company, while 167 workers are from what he called, labour contractors. He said 75 of the 110 locals directly recruited have already started work.
As regards the use of local raw materials by company, Baba re-echoed the declaration that the President/Chief Executive of the Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, made during the launching ceremony for the construction of the plant at Base Elf, Douala on September 19, 2011.

“We hope to use up to 30 percent of local raw material, in line with our business philosophy of adding value to the economy everywhere we operate,”Dangote had declared.

Baba said, after exploration, Dangote Cement Cameroon initially identified mines in Batoke (Fako Division), Tombel (Kupe Muanenguba Division), and Mombo (Mungo Division), for the exploitation of pozzolana (volcanic ash), which is one of the major raw materials in the production of cement. He said the company has started exploiting the mine in Tombel, while that in Batoke will commence later. As for the Mombo mine, he disclosed that further tests carried out indicated that there is a problem with the quality of the pozzolana in that mine, and so, the company will likely not use it. Baba said the company has obtained an exploration license for pozzolana in the Foumban area.

Production Capacity

The GM said the plant has a capacity of 1.5 million metric tons of cement per annum. But, he said, production for the first year will be one million tons, and then it will be increased to 1.5 million tons as from the second year.
As for the jetty project of which Dangote Cement Cameroon SA obtained the authorisation last year, the General Manager disclosed that the company signed a contract with the SATOM Company on January 10, 2015, to construct the jetty. He said dredging will soon start at the portion where the platform will be constructed in River Wouri, adjacent the cement plant.

The press conference that was moderated by Faith C.Ossondu (Corp. Communications,Dangote Group, Nigeria), formerly of STV Cameroon, was also attended by a group of journalists from Nigeria.

Ultra Modern Grinding Plant

The Dangote Cement Cameroon SA GM, accompanied by some of his collaborators, later took the Cameroonian and Nigerian journalists for a visit to the cement plant, where they, among other things, watched the different stages in the production of cement by the Vertical Roller Mill. The huge ultra modern mill produces the cement, packages it and loads the bags of cement directly onto trucks. No dust is observed inside in the factory; as a set of high technology equipment has been installed that automatically pick up all particles of dust. The company has also constructed an ABB Compass Power Sub-Station at the plant – Baba told journalists that it is the only sub-station in the country.

“The Dangote Cement Plant is modern and high performance machinery, which is also very environment-friendly. The plant, as you have all seen for yourselves, is a high tech establishment,” Baba asserted.
Asked when the cement plant will be officially inaugurated, the GM said he could not tell, because, such a decision is beyond his competence.

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