'Nigeria loses over 300,000MT of local sugar demand to smuggling yearly'
The Chairman of Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc, Aliko Dangote has warned that Nigeria is losing over 300,000 metric tonnes of local sugar demand to smuggling on yearly basis.
This figure is huge, as smuggling continues to adversely affect the nation’s sugar industry, he said on the sidelines of the 13th yearly general meeting of Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc, in Lagos.
In his words, “Sugar smuggling is in the range of over 300,000 metric tonnes, which is a lot with some coming to Lagos, but majority of the smuggled commodity goes to Katsina, Zamfara, Kebbi and Sokoto. These are the places we are having the most hit. The government needs to stand up to curb smuggling so that we can create jobs for Nigeria’s teeming unemployed youths.”
He said local production of sugar should be about 1.5 million tonnes, which he said has the capacity to employ over 250,000 people, but stressed that smuggling has continued to hinder the growth of Nigeria’s sugar industry.
He pointed out that 2018 was quite challenging for the company with several negative activities, which include the influx of sugar smuggled into the key markets nationwide, and the Apapa traffic gridlock which continues to affect the evacuation of products from the refinery.
He said despite these challenges, Dangote Sugar continued to post a resilient performance, maintaining that it achieved a group turnover of N150.4 billion, representing a 26 per cent decrease over N204.4 billion in 2017, a profit before tax of N34.6 billion and a profit after tax of N22 billion.
“It is very difficult to compete with smugglers who do not pay excise duties, tariffs, but only settles the Nigerian Customs. Smuggling is really adversely affecting our business, but we are working with the government to address the issue. We are also confronted with issues of infrastructure, but the Federal Government has been magnanimous by signing the Presidential Order 007, to give us the road to construct from the port gate all through to the toll gate going to Ibadan.
“The roads will be five lanes each, and we have already started since the order was signed; and by the time we finish, it will bring the end to traffic jam in Apapa. The result will come, but it will be sometime around next year,” he added.
He noted that going forward, the board remains positive on the company’s future, despite the potential challenges along the way, stressing that the company remain committed to the medium and long term goals of the sugar for Nigeria project, by investing and growing its business efficiently.
He said the cost optimisation efficiency project that is ongoing in the Apapa refinery will impact positively on the company’s performance in the years ahead.
“The Board remains focused on implementing more strategies for optimum delivery of returns to all stakeholders,” he said.
National Coordinator, Pragmatic Shareholders Association of Nigeria (PSAN), Mrs. Bisi Bakare, noted that though many quoted companies are struggling with the payment of dividends, Dangote Sugar Refinery is consistent in taking care of its shareholders.
According to her, investors are always happy when they receive returns on their investments both as dividend and share price growth on the Nigerian Stock Exchange.
Founder, Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria (ISAN), Sir Sunny Nwosu, decried the negative impact of the Apapa Wharf traffic situation, which impacted negatively on the performance of companies, as they struggle to move finished goods and raw materials to distributors and warehouses.
He said the board and management deserves a hefty pat on the back given the situation under which they achieved the result.