World

Cement Is the New Oil as Africa’s Richest Man Takes on Lafarge

Aliko Dangote (Sunday Alamba/AP Photo)
Aliko Dangote (Sunday Alamba/AP Photo)

(Bloomberg) – Africa’s richest man is pushing to dominate its market for cement, the material at the heart of the continent’s infrastructure boom.

All that stands in his way is the world’s biggest cement maker, a flood of low-priced imports, the threat of slowing growth in contracts for dams, ports and roads and a slump in the most-traded emerging-market currencies to a record low.

It’s not stopping Aliko Dangote.

“Africa’s future growth is intrinsically linked to cement,” Dangote, 58, told assembled dignitaries, including Zambian President Edgar Lungu, earlier this month as he opened a new factory on the outskirts of Ndola, Zambia’s third-largest city. The material is “the most basic input into building infrastructure.”

The plant will help bring Dangote Cement Plc’s total production capacity to 43 million tons by the end of this year, within striking distance of the African capacity of market leader LafargeHolcim Ltd. — which runs its own Zambia factory about 30 kilometers (19 miles) from the plant Dangote was opening.

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