Ethiopian officials want part of Dangote Cement given to unemployed youth

Dangote Cement Factory in Ethiopia [Photo credit:]

Regional officials in Ethiopia are demanding that foreign cement producers in the east African country, including Dangote Cement Plc, surrender control of some parts of their businesses to unemployed youth, Bloomberg reported Monday.

Dangote Cement’s 2.5 million metric tons per annum plant in Ethiopia is facing protests by youth groups demanding control of a section of the plant.

The protest by youth from communities adjoining the company’s plant located in Mugher, about 90 kilometers north of Addis Ababa, is coming months after a similar protest by Oromo communities forced the company to halt production.

According to Bloomberg, an agreement drafted by Oromia state’s East Shewa Zone administration this month, proposed the cement companies allow the youth to run their Pumice mines.

Pumice is an additive used in cement manufacturing and its extraction was overseen by local bureaucrats, rather than Ethiopia’s central government, the financial news organisation said.

“The youth have to get the advantage from the resource, and side-by-side the companies must get advantage from this resource,” head of East Shewa’s Yohan Tesso, urban employment creation and food security office, told Bloomberg. “It’s a win-win.”

Oromia has 1.2 million unemployed youth, according to the Addis Ababa-based Walta Information Center news service, which cited a local youth affairs office.

The state is targeting the creation of 950,000 new jobs for young people, it said.

The Oromia administration shut down Dangote and Derba’s operations amid discussions about the proposals, the Addis Ababa-based newspaper The Reporter said on March 11.

Derba’s chief executive officer and chairman of the Ethiopia Cement Producers’ Association, Haile Assegidie, said proposals to give control of pumice to youth cooperatives came without warning, according to the paper.

Dangote Cement CEO, Onne van der Weijde, said the disruptions could not have forced the plant to stop production.

“The Nigerian company is discussing the proposal with Oromo officials and may be willing to sign a contract. As long as that doesn’t involve higher costs and lower quality and the quantity can still be delivered,” he said.

A director of mineral marketing in Ethiopia’s federal mines ministry, Teweld Abay, was quoted by Bloomberg as saying that he was aware of East Shewa’s plans, but the local administration was yet communicate them to the ministry.

Mr. Abay condemned the youth attack on the companies, saying they did not have any right to demand that cement companies sign the contract.

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