By Modupe Gbadeyanka A cement plant worth $500 million with the capacity to produce 1.5 million metric tonnes per annum is ready for launch in Congo on Thursday. The plant is owned by Africa\u2019s richest man, Mr Aliko Dangote, who is embarking on a rapid expand plan across Africa. With the Congo cement factory, Dangote Cement now has 10 fully operational Dangote Cement plants across Africa. The firm, in a statement to journalists on Monday in Lagos, described the Congo plant as the largest in the country. It rolled out its first bag of cement on August 7, 2017, and is expected to create about 1000 direct and indirect jobs in the country. Dangote Cement maintains its stronghold in the domestic cement market accounting for 65 percent of local cement market while Pan-African volumes went up by 7.5 percent to 7.0 mta. Dangote Cement, in the statement, attributed its rise in sales to strong brand recognition, increased point of sales branding, improvements in sales and marketing strategies and higher visibility through trade shows. \u201cOur Pan-African operations are performing strongly with excellent sales growth in Cameroon, Ethiopia and Senegal. \u201cWe are consolidating our success across Africa through commissioning of our 1.5Mta factory in Congo, the tenth country in which we have established operations. \u201cIn our key operations in Nigeria, we have significantly improved our fuel mix and this has helped increase margins across the Group. \u201cIt is especially good for Nigeria because most of the coal we are using is mined in our own country,\u201d the statement said.