By Moses Akaigwe

President of the Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, has reaffirmed the readiness of one of his companies, Dangote Sinotruk West Africa Ltd (DSWAL), to further raise the level of local content in its vehicles to up to 60 percent when Ajaokuta Steel Company comes on stream.

•Inside the Dangote Sinotruk cabin CKD plant on Oba Akran, Ikeja, Lagos

Alhaji Dangote spoke yesterday at the commissioning ceremony of DSWAL’s completely knocked down (CKD) plant on Oba Akran Avenue in Ikeja, Lagos.

Welcoming the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos, the Deputy Senate President, Jibril Barao, Senators and other guests to the event, the Dangote Group President underscored the importance of steel to the automotive industry and the economy.

•A line-up of Dangote Sinotruk trucks during commissioning ceremony

Alhaji Dangote said: “The investment in the truck assembly plant is part of our backward integration to add value and reduce imports. I am glad yesterday, Your Excellency, when you talked about Ajaokuta Steel, and I believe the completion of the Ajaokuta Steel project will give fillip to our attempt to increase local content in the assembly in our lines.

“We have welding and painting shops to fabricate and paint trucks and trailers of different types so as to enhance local content of CKD operations of commercial vehicles manufacturing in Nigeria.

“In the next 12 months, we will begin to fabricate different types of trailers and tippers in our plant to increase value addition of up to 40 to 60 per cent with the goal to achieve domestic self-sufficiency and serve the West Africa regional market.”

Dangote Sinotruck WA Limited, according to him, is an assembler and producer of four lines of commercial vehicles, covering heavy duty trucks, medium trucks, light trucks and other semi trailers, all of which serve the local transportation industry.

He went on, stating, “As you are aware, Dangote also owns majority shares of Peugeot Automobile of Nigeria in Kaduna where we assemble small vehicles. We (DSWAL) are a joint venture company with a total investment of 100 million dollars formed for the truck assembly which is owned 60 per cent by Dangote industries, 30 percent by Sinotruck China and five per cent by Andas.

“Our aim is to meet the expected current demand of this segment of automobiles required for logistics, consumption, food, and beverages industry in Nigeria as government focuses on  economic development across the country.

“I am sure we are going to participate in the new production of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) which this government is driving.

“But, we in Dangote, are actually committed to buying 10,000 of the CNG trucks of which 1,500 are arriving this June/July. Already, about 500 are at the port. So this company has actually the installed capacity to assemble and produce 10,000 trucks annually and create about 3,000 jobs across Nigeria.”

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He informed the guests that Dangote Sinotruk is playing “a strategic and key role” to develop the heavy duty truck assembly and manufacturing industry in Nigeria, and in doing so provides employment opportunities for Nigerians, in addition to improving local auto industry.

“We will continue to invest in the plant and achieve technological advancement for Nigeria. We will also continue to promote Nigeria’s economic development, “ he assured.

In his remarks just before flagging off the CKD cabin production and leading the guests on a tour of the DSWAL many production sections, the Senate President lauded the Dangote Group’s investments in Lagos, in other parts of the country and outside Nigeria.

Addressing Alhaji Dangote as the President of the Dangote Group Worldwide, Senator Akpabio  commended him for his series of investments that have provided employment for thousands of Nigerians.

“I know as you are investing here in Nigeria, you are doing the same thing in other countries, particularly in Africa . You are there in Kenya, Togo, Malawi, Senegal, Ethiopia and so many other countries. You are our own brand and our export to the rest of the world. May God continue to prosper you,” the Senate President said.

He extolled the performance of Gov. Sanwo-Olu in Lagos, promising to lodge “a positive report with the President in Abuja on how you, Sanwo-Olu as the governor,  has been collaborating with the Federal Government to take the children off the street yhrough gainful employment.”

Speaking just before the formal commissioning of the CKD plant, Gov. Sabwo-Olu lauded Dangote Group’s decision to take over a moribund textile company and turn it into such a productive investment.

He assured that the state government would not only continue to provide a conducive environment for investments, but would also lead the way in patronage. He placed a fresh order for 100 Howo Sinotruk trucks to bring the number purchased by his government to 200.

Gov. Sanwo-Olu remarked: “Our role should be that of an enabler; ours should be a government that must ensure that the private sector has what it takes to make those investments…

“Like I mentioned, we have seen the benefits of what they are doing here. To us we have procured from them the orange trucks (for refuse management) that you are seeing on the roads in Lagos. They were all manufactured and put together in this same premises.

“We are making another order of 100 trucks because they are reliable. We don’t need to go very far. Honesty, it is really about partnership and sense of purpose. And the fact that as a people, we need to develop our economic environment better than we met it. I believe that Dangote group of companies has a good local and African business that we must be proud of.”

Dangote Sinotruk was built to produce commercial vehicles, covering heavy duty trucks, medium trucks and light trucks, and has plans to soon commence the production of semi-trailers, tankers and related products.

The plant has the installed capacity to produce about 16 per day in one shift, or about 10,000 units annually on CKD (completely knocked down) basis.

The array of trucks are targeted at satisfying the demands and requirements of the Nigerian market and the larger regional (ECOWAS) market.

One of the highpoints of the ceremony was the display of a long line-up of heavy duty trucks produced at the plant.

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