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Border Closure: Nigeria softens stance, grants Dangote, 2 others approval to resume exports

Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (Rtd), Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service

*Exemption signals government’s softening stance on months-long land blockade in the country

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

Following several months of border closure, the Federal Government Nigeria has allowed Dangote Cement, BUA Group, and a gas company to resume product exports across the land borders in the country.

This latest development raises hopes that Africa’s most-populous country may be opening up trade with neighbors after a year-long blockade, according Bloomberg report.

President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has permission for Africa’s biggest cement producer to export to Niger and Togo in the third quarter for the first time in 10 months, Michel Puchercos, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), was reported to have said during an investor call Monday, November 9.

Report says the exemption to Dangote Cement is seen as a softening of the government’s position on a border closure that started in August 2019, which could open the way for other businesses to fully resume exports across the country’s land barriers.

BUA Group and a gas company also have received presidential approval to transport their products across the land borders.

Joseph Attah, Spokesman of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), disclosed this on phone from Lagos, without providing details.

However, Dangote’s rival Lafarge Africa Plc has not received permission to export across the land borders, according to a company spokeswoman.

Dangote Cement resumed land exports with “restricted volumes,” and plans to grow the trade using the sea channels, according to Puchercos.

A total of 69 tonnes were exported through land borders in the period, less than 1% of the 11,741 tonnes of cement sales in the nine month through September.

The Lagos-based company’s plan to buy back some of its shares has been delayed by market volatility and low liquidity, which have affected valuation, Guillaume Moyen, acting chief financial officer, said at the same conference call.

Dangote Cement shares were unchanged at 185 Naira per unit at close in Lagos, the commercial capital.

The stock has gained 30.3% this year, compared to 21.6% advance by the 153-member Nigerian Stock Exchange Main-Board Index, report stated.

It is recalled that the Nigerian authorities closed borders with neighbouring countries, including Benin and Niger to curb smuggling and boost local production last year.

Though the blockade has encouraged the consumption of locally grown produce such as rice, it yet hurts factories across West Africa, which rely on Nigeria’s market of 200 million people, according to report.

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