*As CBN pledges support to Dangote, other investors
By Udeme Akpan
Dangote Refinery has concluded plans to open its $2 billion fertilizer plant, located at Ibeju Lekki, Lagos, in May.
President of Dangote Group, Mr. Aliko Dangote, disclosed this in Lagos, when the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, visited the Dangote Refinery, made up of the refinery, petrochemicals and fertilizer plants.
According to Dangote, the pre-testing of the fertilizer plant had already begun, promising that it would be the largest fertilizer plant in the world with three million tonnes per annum output.
The plant, he said, would make Nigeria the only urea-exporting country in Sub-Saharan Africa, stressing that the fertilizer and petrochemicals plants were capable of generating $2.5 billion annually.
According to him, the amount is almost 10 percent of what Nigeria is getting from home remittances, which is one of the highest in the world.
Dangote, who noted that on completion, the refinery would make Nigeria the largest exporter of petroleum products in Africa, said: ”One of the reasons CBN is supporting us is that by the time we become operational, we will not only be creating jobs, but we will reduce the outflow of foreign exchange.
“This will not happen only in petroleum products, but also in petrochemicals and fertilizers.
“We will be one of the highest foreign exchange-generating companies going forward. I must really confess that without the government’s support, there is no way we could have done what we have done so far.
“I think we must thank President Muhammadu Buhari for his policies. I thank the CBN governor and management for bringing down interest rates to encourage more entrepreneurs to go into mega projects such as this.
“We should not wait for foreign investors to come and develop our economy. It will never happen. So we have to do it ourselves and the only way to do it is to take advantage of the low-interest rates, and the banks being forced to loan money out.”
Speaking at the event, Emefiele, who commended the Dangote Group for its commitment towards the completion of the project, said: “The reason that I am here today is to see what is going on on-site.
“This time that the economy is going through its own challenges. There is a need for us to diversify the Nigerian economy from oil to other areas, where we have abundant resources.
“The 650,000BPD-capacity refinery, when operational, will not only satisfy local consumption but will also position Nigeria as a major exporter of petroleum products.
“Nigeria is so central, and this refinery will serve almost the whole of Africa, which will lead to cheap cost of freight.
“This project is so strategically positioned that it will even make the final price of petroleum within Nigeria and even outside Nigeria to be lower than those imported outside the African continent.
“We need to encourage other Nigerians and we will keep saying this, Nigerians must stand tall and be ready to come out and support their country.”
According to him, “this is the time for other Nigerians who have been making money in services to come out and join Dangote to help us grow the economy because government alone cannot grow the economy.
“We will want to support any Nigerian or foreigner who finds Nigeria as a good investment destination. Whatever we need to do to help you, we will do it.”