By Oladeinde Olawoyin
Despite the border closure policy put in place, the Nigerian government has allowed Dangote Cement to resume cement export across its land borders. That exemption is being frowned at among the Nigerian business community with at least one major top Nigerian businessman voicing his concerns publicly.
According to Bloomberg, President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration gave its authorisation for Africa’s biggest producer to export cement to Niger and Togo in the third quarter for the first time in ten months.
The revelations were made by Michel Puchercos, chief executive officer of Dangote Cement, on an investor call in Lagos, Bloomberg reported on Monday.
The news medium reported Mr Puchercos to have claimed that the development was made possible “through authorisation given by this administration.”
Although the reasons for the concession remains sketchy Monday evening, the new development raises hopes that Africa’s most populous nation may be opening up trade with neighbouring countries after a prolonged blockade.
Mr Puchercos explained that Dangote resumed land export with “restricted volumes,” and plans to grow the trade using the sea channels.
Last year, the Nigerian authorities closed borders with neighbouring countries including Benin, Togo and Niger to curb smuggling of rice and other goods.
The government also said that the move would boost local production of rice and other goods.
The border closure policy became effective shortly after Nigeria had signed the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCTA).
The AfCTA agreement is projected to boost trade across the continent, host to a total population of about 1.2 billion people and a combined GDP of $2.4 trillion.
Dangote Cement could not be reached for comment Tuesday morning.
When PREMIUM TIMES reached out to Anthony Chiejina, chief corporate communications officer of Dangote Group, he promised to get back to us. However, as of press time Tuesday afternoon, he had not reached out to this newspaper.
On Tuesday, the founder of Stanbic IBTC Bank, Atedo Peterside, criticised the new development in a tweet.
“Allowing legitimate exporters & importers to move their goods across the border should be a no-brainer,” Mr Peterside tweeted.
“Why refuse everybody else & allow only one company (Dangote)? This is why some of us argue that the Nigerian economy is rigged in favour of a handful of well-connected persons.”