By Rose Graham
The Niger State Government has signed a $450 million (N166 billion) Memorandum of Understanding with Dangote Group for the setting up of an integrated sugar cane plantation and a sugar refinery plant in the state.
The state governor, Abubakar Bello, signed for the government while the President of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, endorsed the agreement on behalf of Dangote Sugar Refinery PLC in Minna, the state capital.
The multi-million dollar project is billed to be sited on a 16,908 hectares of land in Lavun Local Government area of the state.
Governor Bello, who eulogised the foresight of Dangote Group in investing in the state, noted that the project would be of great benefit to the state.
He said it would provide job opportunities and improve the economic base of host communities as a certain percentage of the sugar cane would be purchased by the company.
“The mutual benefit drivable for both parties in this project is enormous, especially if we take advantage in the sugar cane value chain.
“It will not only provide thousands of jobs for our youths but also provide some social amenities for the host communities through the company’s corporate social responsibilities.
“The company has also agreed to purchase up to 30 per cent of their sugar cane requirement from the host communities integrated into the project,” the governor stated.
He called on the people to ensure the success of the project and appealed to other investors to consider the state, saying government has made Niger a safe haven for investors and businesses to thrive.
On his part, Dangote said the company had already acquired some hectares of land to commence sugar cane plantation and produce 12,000 tonnes of sugar cane per day.
“The project is to be located in the Lavun Local Government Area of the state and it will involve the development of a sugar cane plantation of about 16,000 hectares which will be supplemented by out grower scheme to produce 12,000 tonnes of cane per day. This will be crushed and refined into high-quality white sugar” he explained.
The Nigerian billionaire further hinted that in addition to the refined white sugar to be produced by the plant, other bye-products such as electricity, ethanol, and animal feed would also be produced in the plant.
He added that the company is working with the state government to establish a large scale rice milling factory in another part of the state to enable it to process about 200,000 metric tonnes of paddy rice.
Dangote described agriculture as a “key sector that contributes immensely to the industrialisation of any nation”, which is said is “in line with our desire to add value to the economy of creating jobs”.
He assured the governor that the project would commence as soon as compensations are paid to the host communities by the end of September.
The Estu Nupe and Chairman, Niger State Council of Traditional Rulers, Yahaya Abubakar, promised maximum support of the host communities.
He, however, called on the company to hasten up the commencement of the project which he said would improve the living standard of the people in the area.
By Rose Graham
Our LADY of The NEWS (United-Kingdom)