Dangote Group signs $4 billion deal with China, eyes new markets
Nigeria’s Dangote Cement has agreed to a $4.34 billion deal with China’s construction giant, Sinoma International Engineering Company, to build integrated cement plants in 11 countries over the next two years.
The new cement production targets include Ethiopia, Zambia, Senegal, Niger, Mali, Cameroon, Cote D’Ivoire, and Ghana. The company is also seeking to open two plants in Kenya, while expanding out of the continent into Nepal, where it plans to construct a plant with a 3 million tonne annual output.
Combined, these facilities will add 25 million tonnes to Dangote’s 71 million tonne annual output and will be completed within 30 months. The company is now targeting a capacity of 100 million metric tonnes over the next five years.
Dangote said that his company’s investments were inextricably linked to growth, wherever the location, and hinted at further expansion. He said: ‘‘Infrastructure is not commensurate with population (growth) and there would not be infrastructure without cement. We are looking at countries where there is need; we won’t go where there is no need.”
In July, Dangote Cement stated the contribution to sales outside Nigeria increased to 14 percent of total revenue by June 30 from 3 percent this time last year.
The company faces competition from main rival Lafarge Africa, which combined its South African operations with its Nigerian business to form a vehicle for competitive expansion.
The Dangote Group has a diverse revenue base alongisde its cement operations, spanning from oil to sugar production; it employs over 25,000 people across its businesses and its owner, Aliko Dangote, is Africa's wealthiest man.
SAS: Improving the British Army’s decision making with data
SAS’ long-standing relationship with the British Army is built on mutual respect and grounded by a reciprocal understanding of each others’ capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM for SAS UKI, states that the company’s thorough grasp of the defence sector makes it an ideal partner for the Army as it undergoes its own digital transformation.
“Major General Jon Cole told us that he wanted to enable better, faster decision-making in order to improve operational efficiency,” he explains. Therefore, SAS’ task was to help the British Army realise the “significant potential” of data through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and conduct complex analysis.
In 2020, the Army invested in the SAS ‘Viya platform’ as an overture to embarking on its new digital roadmap. The goal was to deliver a new way of working that enabled agility, flexibility, faster deployment, and reduced risk and cost: “SAS put a commercial framework in place to free the Army of limits in terms of their access to our tech capabilities.”
Doing so was important not just in terms of facilitating faster innovation but also, in Crawford’s words, to “connect the unconnected.” This means structuring data in a simultaneously secure and accessible manner for all skill levels, from analysts to data engineers and military commanders. The result is that analytics and decision-making that drives innovation and increases collaboration.
Crawford also highlights the importance of the SAS platform’s open nature, “General Cole was very clear that the Army wanted a way to work with other data and analytics tools such as Python. We allow them to do that, but with improved governance and faster delivery capabilities.”
SAS realises that collaboration is at the heart of a strong partnership and has been closely developing a long-term roadmap with the Army. “Although we're separate organisations, we come together to work effectively as one,” says Crawford. “Companies usually find it very easy to partner with SAS because we're a very open, honest, and people-based business by nature.”
With digital technology itself changing with great regularity, it’s safe to imagine that SAS’ own relationship with the Army will become even closer and more diverse. As SAS assists it in enhancing its operational readiness and providing its commanders with a secure view of key data points, Crawford is certain that the company will have a continually valuable role to play.
“As warfare moves into what we might call ‘the grey-zone’, the need to understand, decide, and act on complex information streams and diverse sources has never been more important. AI, computer vision and natural language processing are technologies that we hope to exploit over the next three to five years in conjunction with the Army.”
Fundamentally, data analytics is a tool for gaining valuable insights and expediting the delivery of outcomes. The goal of the two parties’ partnership, concludes Crawford, will be to reach the point where both access to data and decision-making can be performed qualitatively and in real-time.
“SAS is absolutely delighted to have this relationship with the British Army, and across the MOD. It’s a great privilege to be part of the armed forces covenant.”