Dangote Cement released its financial results for 2015 this week and certain numbers are more interesting than others. The headline that the company would probably like us to look at is a 14% rise in profit from significantly higher revenues. However, we would like to look at Dangote’s capacity and production figures. We have spoken about Dangote’s ambitions in this column in recent years and it is very likely that the topic will come up again in the future. But Dangote’s ambitions are increasingly becoming a reality for markets all around Africa. How are its pan-African expansion plans turning out?
Dangote Cement reported that cement production volumes were up by 35% in 2015 compared to 2014. This was due almost entirely to Dangote’s new plants outside of its native Nigeria. While its Nigerian cement production volumes rose from 12.9Mt in 2014 to 13.3Mt in 2015, production elsewhere came in at 5.6Mt, more than five times the amount that Dangote produced outside of Nigeria in 2014. This rapid rise was the result of the first cement being produced at its plants in South Africa, Senegal, Cameroon, Ethiopia and Zambia.
As Dangote has expanded into these new markets, we have heard much about the effects of its new capacity from other producers. In South Africa, long-established players have had to deal with falling cement prices due to the inauguration of Dangote’s Sephaku Cement subsidiary. In Zambia, Zambezi Cement was forced to lay off workers in 2015, citing the opening of Dangote’s new facility as a significant contributing factor. More recently, in February 2016, Ghana announced an investigation into Dangote’s operations in the country following accusations of ‘predatory pricing’ by its competitor Diamond Cement. The investigation is ongoing.
However, the complaints heard to date could really start to ramp up over the course of 2016 as Dangote starts to realise its full potential across Africa. Its cement production volumes may have risen by 35% in 2015 relative to 2014 but its capacity rose by an incredible 87%, with Dangote now claiming a capacity of 44Mt/yr! The capacity utilisation rate is just 43% and the inference is that the ex-Nigerian plants have not yet realised anything like their full potential. Local producers the length and breadth of Africa may well be looking at this situation with dread.
And ramping up its production in 2016 is by no means the end of Dangote’s pan-African vision, with new plants under construction in Nepal, Kenya and Zimbabwe. As well as new plants outside of Nigeria, Dangote cement capacity within Nigeria is also set to rise. It recently announced a further 9Mt/yr of capacity at two new plants. With exports to its smaller neighbours already causing consternation, this will surely add fuel to the fire for local producers like Diamond Cement.
So far in 2016, the news continues to be promising for Dangote. January 2016 sales volumes rose by 77.6% to 2.0Mt, with Nigerian sales up by 46.4% to 1.4Mt. February 2016 sales volumes were 38% better than a year earlier, with Nigerian sales up by more than 60% year-on-year to more than 1.5Mt.
At the end of its report, Dangote says that it expects to have around 77Mt/yr of cement capacity by the end of 2019. If realised, this capacity would be enough to put it up to sixth on the Global Cement Top 100 list by 2016 standards. It would have around 28% of Africa’s entire cement capacity, according to the Global Cement Directory 2016 and would be only 10Mt/yr behind the 87Mt/yr of cement capacity currently held by the established multinational player Cemex. That is truly a number to pay attention to!