VENTURES AFRICA – Board members of Ashaka Cement Plc., the Nigerian unit of Lafarge SA, have endorsed a new development programme that will increase the company’s production capacity from 900,000 to 3 million tons in the near future as it plans to inject fresh funds into the business while leveraging on the technical, operational and financial support from its parent company.
According to the Country CEO, Lafarge Nigeria and Benin Republic, Jean-Christophe Barbant; the board were confident of the cement development plans and significant progress on implementing Phase I of the expansion process. The plans have received support from neighbouring communities and the government of Gombe.
He added that Lafarge, as a majority shareholder of Ashaka, accords great importance to Nigeria in its emerging markets portfolio and is committed to strengthening its existing businesses and developing new activities in this country.
Barbant said the board recognised the contributions of Lafarge, a world leader in building materials with top-ranking positions in Cement, towards enhancing Ashaka Cement’s performance and current production capacity, in particular the company’s initiatives in the usage of coal from Gombe State to substitute expensive imported fuel oil and the increase of clinker and cement production.
“AshakaCem’s vision is to remain the most preferred supplier to its customers and its willingness to make additional efforts to create more local business opportunities, in partnership with its surrounding communities,” he said.
The CEO also noted that technical feasibility studies on raw material reserves, power and infrastructure undertaken by the company were progressing well and the additional limestone and coal reserves are at advanced stage.
In 2011, Ashaka invested N175 million ($1.1 million) in the local communities, with specialisation in areas of education, village infrastructure and health development. This year, the company is providing six-month vocational courses in different market skills for 70 local youths while working on a project that will provide electricity for three villages in Maiganga, where it operates coal mines.