Nigerian conglomerate Dangote Cement has ordered 30,000 tones of coal from South Africa as industrialists and electricity generating companies act to improve the country’s power crisis.

Dangote will use the coal to to power 60 megawatt (MW) power plants, with another 30MW generating facility on standby.

Group managing director of Dangote Cement Devakupar Edwin said: “No business can survive in an atmosphere of energy crisis. If we don’t have power and fuel, our operations would become endangered.”

Dangote Cement is investing US$250 million in three coal-based power plants the company’s cement facilities at Obajana in Kogi State, Gboko in Benue State, and Ibeshe in Ogun State.

Lack of gas supply

The move is seen by the company as a temporary measure and in response to a shortage of gas to fuel its power plants, according to Edwin.

“We are aware of large coal deposits in Nigeria and the allocation of blocs to prospective miners. But we have to take urgent steps to safeguard our investments in the country, more so as exploitation of the commodity has not commenced on a scale that can sustain our operations.

“Currently, we don’t have either gas or black oil (low pour fuel oil) to run our machines fully. We even had to resort to importation of black oil to do our business.

“We had hoped that the gas infrastructure challenges would be resolved, so that normal supplies can be resumed. But the reality on the ground now is that the crisis has persisted.

Power generating companies are also considering converting their plants to coal-fired turbines, according to local media sources, despite government pledges to improve the access to gas supply