DAR ES SALAAM : President Jakaya Kikwete commissioned a new cement plant in Mtwara Region owned by Nigeria’s billionaire, Aliko Dangote on Saturday which is set to double cement production in the country and create jobs and trade opportunities to hundreds of Tanzanians.

President Kikwete said the new cement plant was inaugurated at the most opportune time when construction sector is rapidly growing in the past 10 years contributing 12.7 per cent to the national economy up from seven per cent in the past few years.

The Dangote cement plant in Mtwara with a capacity of producing three million metric tonnes of cement per annum is the largest in East Africa. It is part of the Dangote company’s Africa expansion strategy and is the fourth in the series after Ethiopia, Zambia and Cameroun, while the cement plants due for inauguration this year are located in Senegal and South Africa, with construction works ongoing in several other African countries.

The commissioning of the plant was held at the location of the plant at Msijute area in Mtwara Rural District, about 20 kilometres from town centre. About 170 business persons from Nigeria attended the inauguration ceremony as representatives of Alhaj Dangote.

The delegation of the Nigeria businessmen was led by Mallam Nasir Ahmad El Rufai, the Governor of Kaduna Province who also represented the Nigeria’s government, according to a statement from Ikulu.

The Dangote cement plant is expected to provide direct employment to 1,500 people and indirect employment to about 9,000 people. Construction of the plant cost about 600 million US dollars being the largest foreign direct investment to the economy of the country which is expected to boost supply of cement domestic market and lower its price.

A spot check in Dar es Salaam showed retail price for a 50kg bag of cement ranged between 12,500/ and to 13,500/-. At three million metric tonnes per annum, cement production at Dangote plant will be about half of total production of all cement factories in Tanzania and it is expected to stimulate the local economy of the Mtwara Region and contribute to the growth of the national economy.

The Prime Minister of Chad and ministers from Malawi and Mozambique were among dignitaries who attended the commissioning ceremony of the plant. Alhaj Dangote was accompanied by her three daughters and Dangote Group board members.

Meanwhile, Dangote Cement in Tanzania awarded Tancoal Energy Ltd, part of Australia’s Intra Energy Corp Ltd, the contract for more than 150,000t of coal, which will be supplied over the course of next year. The order represents about half of Dangote Cement Tanzania’s coal requirement and will enable Tancoal to increase mine output by 35 per cent.

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