The Dangote Group is to establish a truck assembly plant in Lagos, saving the country foreign exchange and creating 3,000 jobs in the process.
Specifically, the plant will be churning out heavy duty trucks for which conglomerate spends huge amount to import for products distribution in Nigeria and other African countries where it operates.
Dangote is partnering a leading Chinese Company, National Heavy Duty Truck Group Company Limited (SINOTRUCK) to produce several thousand of trucks used mainly for haulage business from its newly promoted assembly plant at Ikeja, Lagos.
The decision to go into the truck assembly plant project was informed by the need to conserve forex in view of the current economic recession that is facing the country.
The deal worth $100 million to create an assembly plant that will produce 10,000 trucks per year was signed in May 2014 in China, making it the eighth of Shandong, China (SINOTRUCK), to be built abroad.
According to the deal agreement, the plant is 60% owned by Dangote Group, trading under Dangote Industries Limited, leaving SINOTRUCK with the balance.
Consequently, Dangote Agro Sacks Limited, which occupied the Oba-Akran Ogba premises of the former Nigerian Textile Mills, until recently, has been relocated closer to the group’s major operational hubs, particularly the cement plants in Obajana, Kogi State and Ibeshe, Ogun State.
The assembly plant is expected to generate employment for an estimated 3,000 workers, when fully operational.
Nigeria remains one of the most important markets for SINOTRUCK, with Dangote Group operating the largest truck fleet in Africa with over 10, 000 trucks for the distribution of cement, sugar, flour and pasta, and other of its products from its plants across the continent.
Chief Corporate Communication Officer of Dangote Group, Mr. Anthony Chiejina, confirmed the project has taken off and that when fully operational, the nation would be spared the huge amount of forex spent in the importation of the heavy duty vehicles.
According to him, there will be room for the expansion of the project in years to come, adding that as it meets the national truck demand, it would explore exportation to neighbouring countries to generate foreign exchange for the nation.
Chiejina said the Group President, Aliko Dangote, had always believed that the current economic challenges when approached positively will make Nigeria stronger at the end of the day, pointing out that “Alhaji Aliko still believes that Nigeria is one of the best places in the world to do business.”
The automobile assembly plant is also coming ahead of another landmark project, a $17 billion, 650,000 barrels per day capacity Dangote Refinery, petrochemical and fertilizer plants located in Lagos expected, to begin operations in the next two years and creating over 300,000 direct and indirect jobs by first quarter of 2019, which would require a lot of long trucks for product distribution.
It would be recalled that in preparation for the completion of the refinery project, some 100 trainee engineers have been sent on training abroad to handle sensitive aspects of the multi-billion Dollar investment in petroleum products and petrochemical plant.
In 2014, according to reports, Dangote Group imported 12,000 trucks from China. That year alone, and despite shrinking domestic and overseas demand, Sinotruck still secured orders for 176,000 vehicles, up by 9.94% from the previous year.