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Dangote Cement not on sale in Benin Republic –Management

*Arvind Pathak, Group Managing Director of Dangote Cement Plc clarifies the company’s product sells at an average price of N6,216 in Benin Republic despite the the government’s regulation, assuring consumers and stakeholders that the conglomerate is focused on delivering quality cement at the best price possible, despite the current inflationary environment in Nigeria

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

Dangote Cement Plc has refuted a recent allegation that went viral on the social media that the company was selling a bag of 50kg cement to Nigerian consumers at “an exploitative rate of N5,200” while it sells same quantity of cement at N1,500 in the neighbouring Republic of Benin.

The conglomerate, in referencing ThisDay newspaper investigation in Cotonou, Benin Republic, at the weekend, Monday, September 4, 2023, stated the report revealed that Dangote Cement was not on sale in Cotonou or anywhere in the neighbouring country.

Dangote said: “While Dangote does not officially export cement to Benin Republic, it only uses the country as its transit route to export cement to Togo.

“It was discovered that the average price of 50kg (32.5r) bag of cement in the Benin Republic was N6,216, which was about 4,200 Cefa).”

According to the investigation in cement depots in Akpakpa, Ghandi and Etoile Rouse (Red Star) sections in Cotonou, the price of 50kg bag of cement goes for 4,000 Cefa, 4,100 Cefa and 4,200 Cefa at different cement depots in Cotonou, the company noted.

In addition, the newspaper reported the same quantity of cement goes for 4,500 Cefa (about N6,660) in Parakou, which was the largest city in northern Benin because of transport and logistics costs.

Dangote Cement said: “This implied that the average prices of 50kg bag of cement in Cotonuo and Parakou were N6,068, and N6,660 respectively, at the parallel market exchange rate of 1.00 Cefa to N1.48.

The two strongest determinants of the price of cement in the Republic of Benin, according to findings, were the fixing of cement’s price by the country’s government to ensure stability and the imposition of about 51 percent duty and other taxes on imported cement to discourage importation of the commodity and encourage local production of cement.

The statement further noted that among the leading cements brands in Cotonou are Cimbenin Buffle, Ciment Bouclier, Nouvelle Cimenterie du Benin and the Ciment Diamant, which are all manufactured in the country.

“These are mainly 32.5R grade in contrast to Dangote Cement’s 42.5R cement grade that is on sale in Nigeria,” Dangote said.

The company states that an online publication had published a story on August 27, in which it alleged that, “Nigerians have taken to social media to call out billionaire Aliko Dangote for selling his bag of cement for N5,200 in his own country but selling at N1,500 in Benin Republic.”

The online publication had reported that “a Twitter user identified as @drpenking called out Dangote for selling his bag of cement for N5,200 in Nigeria despite the fact that the raw material is sourced locally in Nigeria.

“He (@drpenking) tweeted: ‘Dangote cement is produced in Nigeria. The raw material is sourced locally in Nigeria at almost zero cost. Nothing is imported.

“Almost zero taxes yet the price of cement is N5,200  in Nigeria and same is sold in Seme, Benin Republic at N1,500 . Sit & Explain to me (sic).”

The company, however, explained Mr. Dia Ibrahim Kola, a Cotonou-based Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Marketing Challenge Agency (MCA), told THISDAY in Cotonou last Friday, that the government of the Republic of Benin was striving to maintain stable price of cement in the country through price regulation regime instead of subsidising its supply.

Kola said: “There is only one price for cement in the country.

“This is 78,000 Cefa per tonne of cement. But the retail prices of 50kg bag of cement vary from 4,000 Cefa, 4,100 Cefa and 4,200 Cefa.

“But the price is higher in Parakou in the northern part of the country, where it oscillates between 88,000 Cefa and 90,000 Cefa per tonne.”

The country’s policy was to discourage importation of cement and encourage its local production with high import duty and taxes for cements that do not qualify under the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Schem (ETLS), said the CEO of Marketing Challenge Agency.

Kola further explained the situation in Benin: “We have about four cement manufacturers, including Lafarge and others.

“The government has a fixed price and often sent taskforce to monitor compliance especially in Cotonou.”

He stated: “But it is important to emphasise that government does not subsidise the price of cement in Benin.

“There was a period of high scarcity that the price went up to CFA 100,000 per tonne, which forced the government to intervene to stabilise the market.”

The MCA CEO as well recalled that the only time he had seen Dangote Cement being sold in the country was four years ago by a Nigerian woman around Igolo, that is close to the Nigerian border, adding that she might have smuggled it in then.

Dangote Cement restates position on product prices

The Management of Dangote Cement Plc had clarified that the price of a bag of cement from its factories across Nigeria as of August 28, 2023, was N4,010 (about 2,730 Cefa) in Okpella and N4,640 (about 3,135 Cefa) in Ibese, Objana, and Gboko.

The conglomerate added that transportation costs and the location of delivery might cause the prices to hover between N5,000 and N5,300 per bag 50kg.

This clarification was made in view of recent misinformation that the company sells cement in Nigeria at significantly higher prices relative to other countries, particularly the Republic of Benin, and other neighbouring countries.

Mr. Arvind Pathak, Group Managing Director (GMD) of Dangote Cement Plc, also advised that it was important to distinguish Dangote Cement’s ex-factory prices from prices at which retailers sell cement in the market.

Pathak said Dangote Cement was focused on delivering quality cement at the best price possible, despite the current inflationary environment.

The GMD also assured consumers, that “we continue to innovate new ways to deliver quality products to millions of our customers across Africa, while providing top-notch customer services.

“At Dangote Cement, we are committed to building an inclusive and sustainable business for all stakeholders across the value chain.”

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