In a move that will further expand its foothold, Dangote Cement Plc will this Thursday commission its newly built $500 million 1.5m metric tonnes per annum cement factory in Congo, bringing the number of its fully operational plants across Africa to 10. Now the largest in Congo, the plant commenced operations in August and is expected to directly employ over 1,000 people, besides thousands of indirect jobs, a statement from its parent Dangote Industries Limited read. Dangote Industries’ third quarter unaudited results showed that the Congo plant has almost doubled the size of the country’s cement sector, just as Dangote Cement maintains a strong hold in the domestic cement market with 65 per cent of the Nigerian cement market, and Pan-African volumes rose by 7.5 per cent to 7.0mta. The company’s results also indicated that it recorded strong volumes in Senegal, Ethiopia and Cameroun. In the nine months under review, the 1.5mta clinker grinding facility in Douala, Cameroun, sold approximately 938kt of cement, an increase of 16.4 per cent on the 806kt sold the same period in 2016. The company attributed the increase in sales to a number of factors, ranging from strong brand recognition to increased point of sales branding, improvements in sales and marketing strategies, and higher visibility through trade shows. Dangote Cement Ethiopia increased sales by 16.8 per cent to nearly 1.7mta in the first nine months of 2017, representing capacity utilisation of approximately 88 per cent. The plant in Pout, Senegal, sold 1.0mta of cement in the period under review, up by 21.7 per cent against the same period of 2016 (almost 89 per cent factory capacity utilisation). According to the statement, “Our Pan-African operations are performing strongly with excellent sales growth in Cameroun, Ethiopia and Senegal. We are consolidating our success across Africa and have just commissioned our 1.5mta factory in Congo, the 10th country in which we have established operations. “In our key operations in Nigeria, we have significantly improved our fuel mix and this has helped increase margins across the group. It is especially good for Nigeria because much of the coal we are using is mined in our country.” Top rating agencies, Moody’s Investors Service (Moody’s) and Global Credit Ratings had recently given Dangote Cement Plc (DCP) a stable outlook in their recent published ratings.