Dangote Cement country manager killed in Ethiopia

Thursday May 17 2018

Dangote Cement plant in Mtwara, Tanzania. PHOTO | FILE

Dangote Cement plant in Mtwara, Tanzania. Unidentified gunmen shot dead the Dangote Cement country manager in Ethiopia and two others on May 16, 2018 in the restive Oromia region. PHOTO | FILE 

By ALLAN OLINGO
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Unidentified gunmen shot dead the country manager of Nigeria's Dangote Cement and two others on Wednesday in Ethiopia's restive Oromia region.

According to authorities, Mr Deep Kamara was returning to the capital Addis Ababa from the factory when he was ambushed alongside his driver and personal assistant.

The plant is located in Mugher in Oromia, which surrounds the capital.

Oromia was plagued by violence for over two years, largely fuelled by a sense of political and economic marginalisation among its young population.

Hundreds died in the violence that was triggered in 2015 by demonstrations over land rights, before they broadened into rallies over freedoms that spread to other regions.

“The company’s director died following an attack by unknown gunmen that took place while he was returning to Addis Ababa from the factory alongside two company employees,” a government statement said.

Dangote Cement, which began operations in May 2015, is the largest cement producer in Ethiopia.

The firm has however had tense relations with the local community that saw it temporarily suspend operations in August last year.

The EastAfrican understands that the cement firm's drivers have been on strike for the last one month, which prompted Mr Kamara to head to the factory in a bid to try and find a solution before he met his death.

It is understood that the local workers have for a long time had labour-related issues with the employment agencies hired by the cement manufacturers and this latest industrial action by the drivers was just one of the many.

Carl Franklin, a spokesperson for the Dangote Group was not immediately available for comment over the killings.

Dangote's Ethiopian unit has had a tumultuous time in the last two years, which saw protesters in 2016 attack and vandalise the factory along with several vehicles and machinery.

Last year, the cement firm threatened to shut its Ethiopia’s operations if the Oromia authorities did not reverse an order to cement makers to deliver control of some parts of their businesses to local young people. This saw the national government intervene and the matter is still under deliberations.

The country remains under a state of emergency imposed in February, a day after prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn resigned. Former army officer Abiy Ahmed has since replaced him.

-Additional reporting by Reuters.