How Cement Drives Economic Development

What is it that drives some companies to develop strong, growing economies while others seem to struggle to catch up? There are numerous factors involved in determining which companies can industrialize successfully and which cannot, including historic factors such as war and colonization, which leave lasting legacies long after they end. However, a major ingredient in the recipe for economic success is the resources that a country has access to. Which resources a country can obtain—and how affordably—has a lot to do with whether they’re able to become a developed first world nation with a successful economy. No one knows that better than Alexander F. Bouri.

That’s because Alexander F. Bouri has made a living on one of the most overlooked, but crucial resources of all: cement. When most people think of the resources that are vital to economic development, they’re likely picturing energy sources like coal, oil, and natural gas. Likewise, the presence of skilled workers who can compete in the technology market is a common answer. And both of these answers are correct, as these are essential to competing in today’s economy—but cement, although much overlooked, is just as crucial.

The importance of cement has to do with infrastructure. If you look at a developed nation, almost all of their production relies on large scale infrastructure and all of it is built largely out of cement. Cement is the necessary ingredient when constructing large factories, warehouses, docks and other industrial structures, as well as-large scale housing for workers and educational buildings. Without a supply of cement, all of these facilities become impossible—even the power plants that put energy resources to work. Production then has to happen in small scale shops, which raises costs, lowers efficiency, and makes safety and environmental regulations difficult to enforce.

Similarly, cement is crucial to roadways. Even in the age of airports and railroads, a huge amount of cargo travels by truck—especially in the developing world. That makes cement a necessary building block for businesses of all kinds.

Alexander Bouri knew this and dedicated his life to making affordable cement available in struggling developing nations. He pioneered a method to deliver large cement shipments to small ports that couldn’t handle big container ships. This was the founding innovation behind Seament, his family company, and it helped Nigeria and many other nations get the cement they needed and successfully build a growing industrial economy.

Cement might be something that we often take for granted, but it’s essential to our high-tech economy and way of life.


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