Africa still imports 80% of its food. Bit by bit, a paradigm shift to regional self-sufficiency is taking place, with Nigeria impressively leading the way. Africa’s second-largest economy is seeing major investments in industrial food production and agriculture, and Bühler is at the forefront as a technology partner. The dedication of many local entrepreneurs shows that Africa is no longer just the continent of hope, but one of impressive action.
“I see a revolution coming in Africa,” says Lanre Jaiyeola, a man who looks to the future. The Managing Director of Nigerian food manufacturer Honeywell is currently putting a new pasta line into production. “When I think of Africa, I see talented young people with tons of entrepreneurial energy,” says John G. Coumantaros, CEO and co-owner of Flour Mills of Nigeria. At Lagos Harbour, the company operates a mill with a processing capacity of close to 10,000 tons of grain each day. “Simply put, Africa has enormous potential,” says Sagar Dixit, Project Manager at Kellogg’s Tolaram. In Lekki, the company built a breakfast cereal plant with Bühler as a partner that has an output of 10,000 tons of crispy flakes annually.
“Now it comes down to processing the raw materials that we have in our country,” says Aliko Dangote, the most successful entrepreneur and richest man in Africa. With Dangote Group, he generates sales of over USD 4 billion every year.
Four locations in Nigeria, four companies, four times the action. This is the new Africa.
Nigeria’s economic upturn is restoring confidence. However, the African continent faces pressing challenges. According to the United Nations, today’s population of 1.3 billion will double to 2.6 billion by 2050. A majority of this population boom can be traced back to growth in Nigeria, which is expected to be the third-largest country in the world by 2050. Meanwhile, over 20 million people are starving on the continent, and 30% are malnourished, including 165 million children. For children, malnutrition is especially devastating, as the insufficient supply of nutrients causes stunted growth, cognitive development issues, and a weakened immune system.
“We want to change the entire value chain across Africa. Only local products will be processed and produced.”
Investments in local production
“It is exciting to see how Africa is transforming into a whole new dynamic,” says Andreas Flückiger, Regional Head for the Middle East & Africa at Bühler. A deciding paradigm shift is currently taking place as nations move away from imports toward regional production with local raw materials. Today, 80% of all food in Africa is still imported – an unbelievable figure. After all, Africa has the climate and land needed to grow.
Aliko Dangote hopes to draw on this. “We want to change the entire value chain across Africa. Only local products will be processed and produced,” says Dangote. With flour, pasta, salt, sugar, and beverages, Dangote is already a key food producer in Nigeria.
But that’s not all: Now, Dangote is making an investment in the high double-digit millions to strengthen the local farming and processing of rice. The region is practically made for rice. Six different locations in Nigeria will be equipped with 10 rice processing plants with an overall capacity of 160 tons per hour. Directly and indirectly, this will create thousands of new jobs. And thanks to process technology from Bühler, including optical sorting, the food products will be safe and high-quality. “We have to offer people a way out of poverty,” is Dangote’s creed.
First-class efficiency and hygiene
In many places, the future is already here. Those who are looking for a global standard for the most modern factories to produce breakfast cereals can go to the free-trade zone of Lekki, on the outskirts of Lagos. Hygiene: world-class. Food safety: exemplary. Efficiency: record-breaking.
The process that Bühler and Kellogg’s Tolaram have developed for the new factory significantly reduces waste, energy, and water consumption. “Without Bühler, these advances would not have been possible,” explains Sagar Dixit, Project Manager at Kellogg’s Tolaram, who has worked on the new facility along with his team.
The savings not only benefit the environment, but also the bottom line: The food is affordable for most Nigerians. Fortified with vitamins and minerals, the crunchy breakfast food also contributes to a healthy diet. And here is where you see the new Africa: Step by step, Kellogg’s Tolaram is working to supply the factory with locally cultivated rice. “We are teaching farmers about cultivation, fertilization, and secure storage,” says Dixit. Production has created jobs for 150 people directly, and many more indirectly.
This is just the beginning. About 30 tons of corn run daily through the extruder, dryer, and packaging machines. Cereal is selling like hotcakes. The expansion of the factory to double the capacity is already underway and should be finished by August 2019.
As new and groundbreaking as this type of project is, there are pioneering companies that have shown the way for decades. Companies like Flour Mills of Nigeria (FMN).
“We are aware of our responsibility to the people of Nigeria and our employees.”
Around 50 years ago, the Greek shipowner George S. Coumantaros was looking for new ideas as to how he could use his fleet. The opening of Nigeria at the time presented the company with new opportunities. Why not build a mill in Lagos and ship the grain using company freighters? Said and done. Back then, Coumantaros already relied on Bühler. As the demand for flour swallowed up all available production capacities, FMN immediately built its next mill. With this trend continuing to date, FMN now operates the second-largest mill complex in the world, with a processing capacity of nearly 10,000 tons per day.
Ten thousand tons translates into 20 million one-kilogram loaves of bread each day. This makes FMN a key hub in the Nigerian food chain. But today, after diversifying, FMN produces much more than just bread flour: The company is purchasing more and more raw materials from local production to manufacture pasta, noodles, snacks, cooking oil, and sugar. Quality, food safety, and supply reliability are the top priorities for the company.
“We are aware of our responsibility to the people of Nigeria and our employees,” says John G. Coumantaros, who has run the family business since 2014. This is why FMN invests heavily in training its staff. Bühler offers all the necessary facilities at its African Milling School in Kenya or the new cocoa training center in Ivory Coast that will open in 2019. All’s well that ends well? There’s no question about that. But Africa still has not created a sustained turnaround. Is the rapid population growth eating away at all of the progress? Will the growth continue? Will the political relationships continue to stabilize?
It is too soon to sound the all-clear. However, the principle of hope has joined with the motto of action. “We face neither East nor West; we face forward,” Kwame Nkrumah once said. He was the man who led Ghana as one of the first countries in Africa to independence in 1957. Today, his vision is more relevant than ever.
Training millers in Africa
Professional training in Nairobi
When Bühler announced the opening of the African Milling School (AMS) in Kenya in 2014, the first 25 slots were quickly allocated – from Johannesburg to Cairo, mill operators welcomed professional training for their employees, something lacking in this form until then. A good miller is key to the mill yield, increases the quality of the flour, and ensures high plant availability and safety.
In a two-year dual training course, AMS conveys the necessary expertise and certifies young people as millers or head millers. It is Bühler’s fifth milling school worldwide, alongside centers in Switzerland, China, the US, and India. For the milling industry in Africa, this school represents a milestone and a clear sign of progress. To date, 82 people have completed the miller apprenticeship program, and more than 30 head millers have graduated from the Head Miller program. More than 500 participants have attended short courses at AMS over the past four years.
“Simply put, Africa has enormous potential.”
Investing in the future
New chocolate training center in Ivory Coast
Two-thirds of all cocoa beans are grown in West Africa, and Ivory Coast is at the top of the supplier list. Still, the majority of chocolate processing takes place in Europe. Now, Ivory Coast plans to bring home at least 50 % of raw cocoa processing by 2020 (currently one-third). Thanks to tax incentives for cocoa mills and chocolate producers, this goal is within reach. In the past five years, several major chocolate producers – many of whom are Bühler customers – have opened plants in the region. To help process these highquality products and contribute to the sustainable growth of the regional cocoa industry, Bühler will open a cocoa training center in the capital city of Abidjan in the second half of 2019. In practical lessons, participants will be trained in operating and maintaining cocoa bean processing machines. This not only reinforces the development of local skills, but also helps operators of Bühler chocolate processing lines to improve the quality of their products.
A career in milling
Looking ahead with confidence
As 30-year-old Huzeinat Shidi applied for a position at Flour Mills of Nigeria (FMN) four years ago, she had no idea that her life would be changed so radically for the better. When she didn’t hear back for weeks, she accepted that she wasn’t getting the job. But then something else happened: She was not only hired, but also given a promotion in just a short time. Her managers quickly saw her motivation, skill, and diligence. One clear sign of recognition – FMN sent her to Kenya in 2015 to Bühler’s African Milling School.
She excelled, becoming the first female miller, not just at FMN, but in all of Africa. Within the FMN milling complex, she quickly took over shift responsibility for a 1,000-ton plant. But that’s not all: FMN has so much faith in the young expert that she was sent to the most famous training grounds for the industry in the world, the Swiss School of Milling in St. Gallen in 2018. There, she completed a next level of training. “Milling is my passion,” says Shidi.