Lafarge Africa to bridge skills gap, embrace clean energy

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LAGOS, AUGUST 17, 2017 – Cement manufacturing and building solutions firm, Lafarge Africa Plc, has said that its investment in the Cement Professionals Training Programme (CPTP) is aimed at training youths toward bridging skills gap in the cement industry and increasing local content of her operations in the country. It is also aimed at forging strong ties with its host communities as well as a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme.

Lafarge’s Communication and States Relations Manager, Mrs Titilope Oguntuga, disclosed this at the weekend while receiving reporters at the firm’s 3. 5 million metric tonnes capacity Ewekoro plant in Ogun State.

She explained that about 27 students drawn from the company’s area of operations are on a three- year training with the cement manufacturer. On completion, some of the successful trainees will be absolved into the company’s workforce, while the others will form a pool of skilled personnel needed in critical areas in the industry.

One area the company says it is emphasising on in its production process is to ensure a viable socioeconomic and environmental development of the country. This, the Environment Manager, Ewekoro Plant, Mrs Olufunke Madojutimi, said, accounts for its commitment to using renewable energy to enhance sustainable development of the construction industry and protection of the environment.

Explaining the company’s operations, the Plant Manager, Ewekoro Plants I and II, Mr Olusegun Soyoye, said the firm’s strategic plan was to conduct business with zero harm to people and the environment through developing solutions that optimised natural resources for power generation.

This, he said, made the company to look into substituting its usage of fossil fuel with the use of renewable energy to generate electricity; it also helps its production process to mitigate disruptions arising from unstable power supply and gas shortage to the industrial sector.

“We are using palm kernel shells to produce biomass that fuels our plant and 134 hectares of trees have been planted for this purpose,” he said.

According to Soyoye, Lafarge produces 90 megawatts (MW) of electricity to power its operations, with plans to increase this to 220 MW in future. When this is achieved, the country will benefit from a 30 MW to be injected into the national grid by the firm. This represents the excess from its requirement. It will however come at a cost to consumers.

The planned injection to the national grid is in fulfilment of Lafarge’s Country Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Michel Puchercows’ promise to support the country in solving her energy problem.

“We realised last year that dollars was scarce and energy was scarce in Nigeria. So, the company reacted very strongly. Ogun State, being an agriculture hub as well, made it possible for us to produce 50 per cent power from biomass in 2016, which we can grow up to 70 or 80 per cent. We aim to roll out the scheme in other plants; in Cross River State, and in Ashaka, Gombe State,” he explained.

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