$18.5bn Dangote Refinery, a huge relief

The commissioning of the $18.5 billion Dangote Refinery and Petro-chemical Company Limited in Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos state, by President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday, is not only a welcome development but also a huge relief for Nigerians who have over the decades contended with the excruciating fuel queues amidst a fraudulent subsidy regime running into trillions of dollars.

Speaking on the occasion, attended by heads of state from Ghana, Togo, Niger, Senegal and a representative of the President of Chad, President Buhari said the refinery is a significant milestone for Nigeria’s economy and a game changer for the downstream petroleum products market in the entire African region.

“This mega industry we are commissioning today is a clear example of what can be achieved when entrepreneurs are encouraged and supported and when an enabling environment is created for investments and for businesses to thrive.

“I am confident that my successor, His Excellency Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, will sustain the improvement in our economic and business environment and strengthen the framework of our public private partnership policies to accelerate the pace of our economic growth and development. I am happy to leave our economy in very competent hands.”

While commending Aliko Dangote’s leadership in executing the 650,000 barrels per day refinery, the president urged other entrepreneurs to emulate his example in driving economic growth and realising Nigeria’s economic potential.

He stressed the need for African countries to come together, integrate their economies, eliminate trade barriers, and rally their populations to achieve Agenda 2063 for the continent’s prosperity.

“I urge and encourage our other great entrepreneurs to emulate this iconic Nigerian industrialist and join the government in accelerating our growth in order to realize our country’s globally recognised economic potential.

‘‘When I travel around Africa and meet and engage my brother heads of state (and I am delighted some of their Excellences are here) I often sense a quiet expectation that our country is blessed with resources and human capacity to lead Africa’s rise to economic prosperity and the attainment of Agenda 2063 – ‘The Africa we all want.’

‘‘But to achieve the goals of Agenda 2063, Africa must come together – we must integrate our economies, eliminate barriers to trade and energize our youthful population to scale up our productive capacity”.

In his address, Alhaji Dangote said the newly commissioned refinery would employ over 100,000 Nigerians youths as well as generate over $21 billion, thus saving the country huge forex that would have been used for fuel importation. The company, according to him, now has over 33,000 employees.

Dangote lamented that the current fuel crisis has had negative impact on the nation’s economy and that informed his decision to build a world class refinery that would change the trend and that though he faced challenges but decided to trudge on.

“We have built a refinery with a capacity to process 650,000 barrels per day (plus 900,000 tonnes of polypropylene) in a single train – which is the largest in the world. We have selected the best plants and equipment and the latest technologies from across the world.

He said the over $18.5billion investment  in the industry was prompted by the company’s desire to support and contribute its quota to the federal government’s sustained effort to transform the economy and reposition Nigeria as the leading nation in Africa, and a respected member among emerging economies in the world.

According to him, apart from ensuring a consistent supply of high-quality fuels for the transportation sector, the refinery will provide essential raw materials to a wide range of manufacturing sectors, including plastics, pharmaceuticals, food and beverages, packaging, construction, and more.

He said the refinery’s operation and related businesses would generate a substantial number of job opportunities, while the downstream supply and distribution of its products would significantly contribute to the absorption of labor, potentially benefiting hundreds of thousands of individuals.

“Once our plant is fully on stream, we expect that at least 40% of the capacity will be available for export and this will result in significant Foreign Exchange inflows into the country.

“Overall, we are committed to operating our plant in line with international best practice, recognising the importance of protecting the environment, and putting in place stringent environmental, health and safety policies to ensure that the refinery operates in a safe and sustainable manner,” he said.

Also in his remarks, Group Managing Director Nigerian National Petroleum Company Ltd (NNPC) Mele Kolo Kyari, said the NNPC was happy to partner Dangote Refinery “because the project has potential for smooth supply of petroleum and it would guarantee healthy competition for the benefits of the nation’s economy.”

In their respective goodwill messages, Presidents of Ghana, Senegal, Niger, Benin Republic and Chad expressed satisfaction that the Dangote Refinery would serve the West African region and that their countries would be beneficiaries, saying the Dangote Refinery is an African company for Africa by an African entrepreneur.

We commend the resilience and doggedness of Aliko Dangote in the coming on stream of the Dangote Refinery. It is instructive that Dangote had defied all odds, including stiff opposition and frustration by the subsidy cabal that has held Nigeria’s oil and gas industry captive for decades, to actualise his refinery ambition. Kudos to Dangote!