Africa’s richest businessman, Aliko Dangote says he is ready to invest and help Ghana grow her sugar industry.
Speaking during a One to One Conversation at the on-going 5th annual Financial Times African Summit, Mr. Dangote said: “We are going to help Ghana grow its own sugar for the first time.”
The Nigerian business mogul said the key to Africa’s economic growth and strength is in the development of the regional market, adding that “Regional markets in Africa must work.”
According to him, the time has come for Africa to buy from Africa, hence the need for free trade agreements by African nations.
Dangote began exporting sugar to Ghana about five years ago with a company representative in 2013 saying that the company’s sugar was better than the ones imported from Argentina, Mexico, North America and Brazil.
Mr. Dangote, who owns one of the continent’s biggest cement factories – Dangote Cement, wondered why Nigeria’s neighbour Benin Republic would continue to import cement from China while his factory in Nigeria is only 35 miles away from the border.
“We need to continue to transform the structure of African economies,” he said, adding that it was his company’s commitment to doing this that made it enter the Ghanaian sugar industry.
Ghana’s sugar production has suffered over the last few years following the collapse of two factories – Komenda and Asutuare Sugar factories, with importation the only option to satisfy the huge local demand.
Ghana spends an estimated $200 million to import sugar annually and the Komenda Sugar factory, which was expected to change the situation, is faced with numerous operational challenges despite receiving huge government support.
The country’s annual sugar requirement, as of 2016, was estimated at some 375,000 tonnes.