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Dangote: With new refinery, we’ll boost Nigeria’s economy by $20billion



Nigeria may take a breather from the twin issues of crisis in the production and distribution of petroleum products and rising cost of dollars, if the words of Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man, who promised to tackle them, become real.

Dangote, owner of the Dangote Refinery, Nigeria’s first private initiative in processing crude on a large scale and Africa’s largest in terms of capacity, was quoted as saying that with the planned commencement of the refinery located in Lagos, Nigeria could save up to $10 billion in foreign exchange (FX) and generate another $10 billion in exports when the facility begins operation.

The 650,000 barrels per day, also reputed to be the world’s largest single-train refinery, is set for inauguration on May 22, by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The business magnate, who spoke in an interview with a special edition of London-based The Economists Magazine, entitled: The World Ahead 2023which was unveiled with considerable focus on West Africa and aimed to highlight both the potential as well as areas for improvement in Africa, was quoted as saying Nigeria currently imports over 90 per cent of its refined petroleum products, which amounted to roughly $10 billion in imports in 2022.

While this has brought major benefits to many businesses, Dangote explained that more prosperity could be created by locally refining Nigeria’s resources, with the refinery being a major step in this direction by reducing the country’s dependence on imported refined petroleum products.

“The refinery’s completion will not only create direct and indirect jobs, but also lead to skills transfer and technology acquisition opportunities that will benefit the downstream sector.

“Moreover, the refinery’s production of critical products like naphtha and polypropylene will stimulate the development of other industries, such as cosmetics, plastics, and textiles. Refineries on this scale could save Nigeria up to $10 billion in foreign exchange and generate approximately $10 billion from exports.

“We see room for development of added value in agribusiness too. Here, initiatives like our Sugar Backward Integration Projects look to create a strong localised supply in the sugar industry. With a goal to produce around 0.5 million tons of sugar per annum from locally grown sugar cane, benefits will be created across the sugar value chain for local suppliers,” he added.

He noted that the soon-to-be commissioned 650,000 barrels per day refinery in Lagos, would enable Nigeria achieve self-sufficiency in refined petroleum products, as well as export to other African markets.

According to him, there are also ample opportunities to increase the country’s rice production, with the ongoing construction of six rice mills that could mill approximately one million tons per annum of locally produced rice, thereby empowering local farmers.
The renowned businessman pointed out that the group of companies also has a 2.8 million tons per annum fertiliser plant tapping into the fertiliser market, while opportunities are being explored in tomato cultivation and processing as well as dairy production.

“With many parts of West Africa still facing food insecurity, the emergence of strong localised industries with resourceful suppliers and clear trade networks will be a big step in the right direction,” he maintained.

Dangote stressed that Nigeria presents an attractive investment opportunity for international investors, saying with the country’s abundance of natural resources, diversifying and digitising economy, youthful demographics and vibrant society, investors will find in Nigeria a country of many possibilities.

“Its population of over 200 million — of which 40 per cent is under the age of 15 – means the country’s demographic dividend offers investors with a long-term view an encouraging option in several sectors.

“Nigeria has a variety of untapped natural resources which, for commodity-driven investors, offers options in the upstream, midstream, and downstream segments. Its vast arable land and favourable climatic conditions similarly support a wide range of crops, positioning it as an auspicious destination for agriculture-based investments.

“Here, we expect to see the development of a strong, home-grown agribusiness industry. We are also seeing the emergence of a strong digital economy, with several Nigerian start-ups becoming vibrant players in their respective tech-fields.

“Nigeria’s import dependency and reliance on foreign markets presents major prospects for import substitution and supply chain localisation. Across various consumer-goods sectors of the economy, as well as supply-side needs for commercial and industrial enterprises, there are different options to set up localised supply networks,” he argued.

With the conclusion of the recent elections, Dangote explained that he was looking forward to government taking proactive steps to enable and empower investment by the private sector as the country has a variety of opportunities for businesses to work alongside the government through Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) in infrastructure development.

On opportunities provided by the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), Dangote stated that the initiative has the strong support of many businesses across Africa with different private sector leaders actively involved in the process leading up to its signing and ratification.

Within the context of manufacturer’s associations and industrial groups, which he said he participated in, Dangote explained that he saw the willingness of African governments to engage with the private sector so they can hear what ingredients are needed to unlock increased intra-Africa trade.

In looking to opportunities for exports from a strong base such as Nigeria, the cement industry, he said, could benefit greatly from not only exporting cement to burgeoning construction markets across the continent, but could look to build cement plants in other markets.

Driven by population growth, urbanisation, infrastructure development, and housing demand, he noted that Africa’s cement consumption has considerable room for growth as evidenced by its per-capita cement consumption of 130kg, far behind the global average of 541kg.

“Sub-Saharan Africa presents an opportunity for expansion, as its population is projected to grow from 1.1 billion to over 2.1 billion by 2050, with two thirds of this growth in urban areas. Nigeria currently has an installed cement production capacity of about 54m tons/pa, which exceeds local demand and so a lot of this can be exported across Africa.

“Governments and businesses need to work together to improve competitiveness, dismantle barriers to accessing markets and develop supportive industrial policies. It is also important for countries to understand the potential revenue loss from the elimination of tariffs and develop strategies around tariff revenue gaps.

“Additionally, effective monitoring and enforcement of rules of origin is essential to ensure that products traded within the market originate from within the continent. By forging partnerships, businesses and governments can collaborate to overcome these challenges and maximise the potential benefits of initiatives like AfCFTA,” he explained.

As a key player in Africa’s push towards self-sufficiency in the cement industry, he disclosed that the group has an installed production capacity of approximately 51 million tons per annum across 10 African countries.

In addition, he noted that the group’s newly inaugurated urea plant in Lagos, with a capacity of 2.8 million tons per annum, not only ensures a secure supply of fertiliser for Nigeria, but also allows for exports.

On climate change, Dangote said businesses should actively look to integrate sustainable practices throughout their operations while embedding an awareness among staff of how business activities impact the socioeconomic realities of stakeholders.

By prioritising energy efficiency, water conservation, waste management and emissions control, he posited that companies could look to alternative fuel sources, energy-saving initiatives and waste management protocols as easy wins to benefit stakeholders.

Expressing his views on expectations for the creation of value-added industries in Africa, the richest black man in the world stated that Nigeria’s economy as presently constituted has largely been built around the extraction and exportation of its natural wealth.


Speak now! Catholic priests want Kaduna gov’s reaction to El-Rufai’s Islamisation comments



Uba Sani, must either officially distance himself or affirm the declaration of his predecessor Nasir El-Rufai that Muslim-Muslim executive branch leadership, have come to stay or stand up to denounce it immediately.

These were the demands from Catholic priests in parts of the North, who as they expressed disgust at the statement, which showed the former governor captured in a video, which went viral last week, practically celebrating the continuation of an arrangement, which he first introduced in 2019, and which has now been sustained with the new governor having a Muslim deputy.

Clerics from Kaduna, Kafanchan and Zaria chapters of the Nigerian Catholic Diocesan Priests Association (NCDPA), in a public letter to Sani, urged him to declare his position on what they described as political supremacism in Kaduna state and Nigeria, as part of their reactions to the video, which has raised a lot of dust.

El-Rufai, who in his speech to Muslim clerics in the state, had recounted how after instituting an all-Muslim executive in the state himself and made it permanent in the state, the arrangement was pushed through at the national level with the election of Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Kashim Shettima, as President and Vice President, respectively on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Informing that while Nigerians were actually believed that religion was not the issue in pushing through with the ticket, when it was in fact the case, the former Governor, who spoke in Hausa, declared that the arrangement had come to stay and would last for the next 20 years at the initial stage after Tinubu, adding that the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), had been defeated by the outcome.

But an apparently thoroughly upset Catholic priests, in an open letter on Thursday, said: “Having soberly considered the contents and implications of such communication by a former state governor who is known to be your close ally, we feel compelled to write you, to know where you stand with regard to the commotions Mallam El-Rufai intends to propagate and perpetuate in our state,” the letter reads.

“We write you today because we are responsible stakeholders in the affairs of our beloved state with our own congregations and followers. Mr governor, we do not intend to conclude that you are in agreement with all the content of the former governor’s utterances, as you have given no explicit reason to suggest so (yet), even though you were present at the occasion! We therefore earnestly expect your direct official reaction to the utterances of your predecessor in office.”

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Buhari spent more than $19billion on revamping four refineries without result – Nasarawa gov



Barely two weeks after his exit, the records of former President Muhammadu Buhari, have come to to the fore with one of them indicating a damning verdict, as he was said to have sunk a whopping $19billion in trying to rehabilitate the nation’s four refineries, without anything to show for it.

Abdullahi Sule, Governor of Nassarawa State, who used the former President abysmal failure to make a case for supporting the removal on petroleum products, compared the huge wastage to the amount Dangote refinery, cost to give Nigeria a facility with the single chain production in the world.

None of Nigeria’s four refineries, located in Kaduna, Port Harcourt, and Warri is currently operational despite the huge amount sunk to resuscitate them, most of the funds borrowed from foreign lending agencies, the latest being the securing of $1.5million loan for that of Port Harcourt.

Bemoaning the situation, the governor, said: “Look at how much the President Buhari administration spent on fixing the refineries. In the eight years, he spent more money than the $19 billion that Dangote spent in building a refinery. That is one and a half times the size of our three refineries combined.”

A guest on Sunrise Daily, a breakfast programm of Channels Television on Thursday, Sule, pinned the payments of subsidy on Nigeria’s non-functional refineries, adding: “From the government side, I think we didn’t do a good job. When the (former) President (Buhari) came in in 2015, prices of crude oil dropped by less than 30 dollars. At that time, there was zero subsidy.

“Our three refineries in Nigeria today have a total of 450,000 barrels per day, Dangote is 650,000. He spent $19 billion on building it. We spent, not building a new one, but in maintaining these refineries; more than $19 billion in eight years, yet they have not been maintained.”

The Dangote Refinery, Africa’s biggest oil refinery, which took off in 2017, drew Nigerians and global personalities in different fields of life, including four African Presidents at its commissioning on May 22, 2023 by Buhari.

Sule, who also lamented the complexity of maintaining the refineries due to their diverse components, added: “The refinery is actually a component for water, crude, and diesel, about five or six different components that constitute a refinery. The moment the government says we are going to spend $2 billion this year on the refinery. The $2 billion is spent and as far as the President is concerned, they have given $2 billion.

“Now when it goes to the three refineries that we have in Port Harcourt, Warri, and Kaduna. Then they say, you now take $700 million, you now take $800 million – by the time they take that, it goes to fix maybe only one component out of the four components that are all bad. The ideal resolve would have been to allocate the major funds to one of the refining states to fix it totally before allocating the remainder to the other states.

“So, zero work is done. These are the true realities of what is happening, and that is why none of the refineries is working. These are truly the problem, we have not really managed this thing well.”

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Japan goes tough on asylum seekers, enacts new law to check abuse



Despite desperate attempts to block it, including a ruckus, which broke out in parliament Japan went ahead on Friday to enact an immigration law that would see the government deporting failed asylum seekers, even with members of civil society, joining in the pushback.

The law gives refugees only three chances to try after which they would face deportation, unlike before when applicants could stay in Japan during the decision process, regardless of the number of attempts they made to secure refugee status, reports, say.

The revised law will “protect those who must be protected while strictly dealing with people who have violated rules. There are many people who misuse the application system to avoid deportation,” Justice Minister Ken Saito, was quoted as saying, adding that this had persisted even when such people were not fleeing danger or persecution.

Last year, Japan accepted just 202 refugees out of some 12,500 applicants, and separately allowed 1,760 people to remain in the country due to “humanitarian considerations,” including more than 2,400 evacuees from Ukraine under a different framework.

Activists staged rallies against the revised law, but a protest from the opposition bloc in parliament was voted down by the ruling coalition, which holds a commanding majority.

“It is intolerable to deport people, even if they have criminal records, to countries that may violate their human rights” and where “their life and freedom would be in danger”, the Tokyo Bar Association said this week.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party says the revisions will bring better access to medical care and accommodation options for people whose asylum applications are pending.

Japan’s immigration detention conditions have been under scrutiny since the 2021 death of Wishma Sandamali, a 33-year-old Sri Lankan woman.

Sandamali was not an asylum seeker but had been held for overstaying her visa after seeking police protection, reportedly to escape an abusive relationship.

Her family are seeking compensation of more than $1 million from the government over her death.

Sandamali reportedly complained repeatedly of stomach pain and other symptoms, and campaigners allege she received inadequate medical care.

Controversy and political pressure over the incident led ruling lawmakers to drop a push to enact similar legal changes to immigration rules two years ago.

Shoichi Ibusuki, a lawyer for Sandamali’s family, told AFP on Thursday that the revised bill was “equivalent to having a button to execute those who seek refuge by deporting them”.

“Japan’s refugee recognition system is not working,” he said, with officials turning down applications quickly, sometimes without face-to-face interviews.

Amnesty International also said in March that Japan should scrap the proposed revision to immigration laws, calling the country’s detention policies “harsh” and “repressive.”

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