HARARE, August 31 (The Source) – Nigerian magnate Aliko Dangote, reported to be Africa’s richest man, says he is looking to invest in coal mining and power generation in Zimbabwe, apart from setting up one of his group’s biggest cement plant in the country.
Dangote arrived in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare on Monday and met President Robert Mugabe at his official residence. Earlier in the day, the billionaire had held a series of meetings with high-ranking government officials vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa, Mines Minister Walter Chidhakwa and Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi.
“We are looking at a couple of things, power generation, coal mining and also putting of the cement plant” Dangote told reporters.
“We are sending our team next week and hopefully if things go well, we would be ready to put the biggest cement plant which is a million and half tones, so we will look into this. We’ve already decided to invest into Zimbabwe. That’s why we are here. Any country were you see us visiting it means, yes, we’ve decided to invest.”
Earlier in the day, Dangote revealed plan to build a 1,5 million tone cement plant, which would be Zimbabwe’s largest.
The country’s three major cement producers – PPC Zimbabwe (760,000 tonnes), Lafarge (450,000 tonnes) and SinoZim Cement have a combined 1,46 million tonne current capacity.
PPC is, however expected to add 700,000 tonne capacity when its Harare plant comes on stream in 2016.
Dangote said his group would also explore Zimbabwe’s power sector. The southern African country currently generates about 1,300MW from its ageing plants, against demand which peaks at 2,200MW in winter.
“On power, that could be a huge investment. We have this fund, which is a joint venture between Dangote and Blackstone Ltd. We have $5 billion with them and it’s one of the vehicles we want to bring to do the power generation,” Dangote said.
“On the coal and cement, it’s Dangote Cement that will be investing. A week ago, Dangote Cement signed a contract with China’s Sinoma for $4,3 billion. Even with that it will only take us over 70 million tonnes, the projection is that by 2020 it should be at 100 million tones. Zimbabwe will be an addition to try to get that target.”
He said construction of the cement plant could start in the first quarter of 2016, subject to licencing procedures.
“Depending on getting all the documentation, if we get all this, we will start construction by first quarter, we will move very fast, but it all depends on the government.”