President Muhammadu Buhari says that the 650,000 barrels per day Dangote refinery is a game changer for Nigeria’s economy.
Buhari disclosed this at the inauguration of Dangote Petroleum Refinery in Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos on Monday.
He said that the refinery was expected to enable Nigeria to achieve self-sufficiency in refined products and even have surplus for export.
The President described the feat as a significant milestone for Nigeria’s economy and 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,’’ he said.
Buhari commended Alhaji Aliko Dangote’s leadership in executing the 650,000 barrels per day refinery, urging other entrepreneurs to emulate his example in driving economic growth and realizing 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 recognized 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.
‘‘We must create necessary conditions for our private sector to grow and partner with the public sector to accelerate economic growth across the continent.
‘‘We must not allow outside powers to use some of our leaders to destabilize our economic and political trajectory,’’ he said.
Buhari acknowledged the visionary investments made by the Dangote Group, under the leadership of Dangote, in transforming Nigeria’s economy through its involvement in critical industries such as cement and fertilizer.
He noted that investment in these sectors have played a crucial role in shifting Nigeria from heavy import dependence to becoming a net exporter.
Buhari acknowledged that Nigeria’s economy has faced significant challenges over the years, including deficits in economic infrastructure due to insurgency.
He said that the economy has also faced external crises such as the Global Financial Crisis, oil price collapses, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Russia-Ukraine war.
‘‘The consequence of these challenges constitute a severe strain on our economy, limiting the Government’s ability to provide basic infrastructure without resorting to huge borrowings.
‘‘Our Government, therefore, took the decision to focus attention on creating an enabling environment for the private sector to thrive and fill the enormous gap in investments not only in infrastructure but also in all critical sectors.
‘‘We recognise that without the active participation of the private sector and a strong commitment to public private partnership, our economy would continue to remain severely challenged and our economic growth impeded.
‘‘Government therefore, will and should continue to provide an enabling environment and encourage innovative public private partnerships in all sectors of our economy,’’ he said.
The President emphasised the administration’s commitment to this approach, citing Executive Order 007 of 2019 which facilitated the rehabilitation/construction of many roads by private sector investors using a Tax-credit scheme.
‘‘It is my hope that the succeeding administration will continue to apply such innovative schemes in partnership with the private sector to accelerate the provision of critical infrastructure in particular roads, power and gas pipelines,’’ he said.
Alhaji Aliko Dangote assured that the refinery would turn out its first product to the market before the end of July this year.
Dangote said: “Beyond the constant availability of high-quality fuels for our transportation sector, the refinery will also make available to our Industries vital raw materials for a wide range of manufacturers in the plastics, pharmaceutical, food and beverages, packaging, construction, and many other industries.
“While the refinery operation and ancillary businesses will generate massive job opportunities, the downstream value chain will equally provide far more absorptive capacity for labour in hundreds of thousands.
“Once our plant is fully onstream, we expect that at least 40 per cent of the capacity will be available for export and this will result in significant foreign exchange inflows into the country,” he said
He emphasised the refinery’s role in fulfilling the group’s corporate vision of promoting self-sufficiency and global competitiveness.
”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.
”Our product slate is designed to meet the highest quality standards and high-value products including Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) and Automotive Gas Oil (Diesel).
“Others are Aviation Turbine Kerosine (ATK); all of Euro V Standards that will enable us not only meet our country’s demand but also to become a key player in the African and global market.
”Our coastal location and offshore loading and offloading (SPM) facilities with a capacity to receive all our crude oil supplies and evacuate up to 75 per cent of our liquid products give us direct access to the rest of Africa and the global market for exports.
“In addition, 80 percent of our production can be discharged through trucks nationwide.”
Dangote disclosed that the huge investment of over $18.5 billion in this 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.
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 further stated that the refinery’s operation and related businesses would generate a substantial number of job opportunities.
Dangote said the downstream supply and distribution of its products would significantly contribute to the absorption of labour, potentially benefiting hundreds of thousands of individuals.
”Once our plant is fully on stream, we expect that at least 40 per cent 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 requirements, 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 speaking, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, disclosed that outstanding debt by Dangote refinery has dropped appreciably from over $9 billion to $3 billion.
This was even as he said the CBN also partnered, as always, with the Dangote Group in ensuring the successful completion of the project by providing about N125 billion, to cover domestic currency requirements for the venture.
Emefiele said that the Dangote Group has started repaying some of the commercial loans even before the inauguration of the facility, saying this reflects the commercial capability of the Group and its Chairman.
“I must at this juncture appreciate all the participating local Nigerian banks, who did not only partner with the project through effective financing but were keenly aware of the importance of the project for our nation.
“They provided immense support and exceptional understanding, even when interest payments and principal repayment had fallen due,” he said.
Emefiele assured that under the incoming administration of Sen. Bola Tinubu, Nigeria would cease importing petroleum products, fertiliser and petrochemicals that drained over US$26 billion in 2022.
According to him, the self-sufficiency in refined petroleum, urea, and polypropylene, which Nigeria has attained with the Dangote refinery is a strong testament to how leadership, dedication, focus, commitment, and resilience have helped Nigeria on its drive towards import substitution and export orientation.”
He added that the take-off of the Dangote Refinery and Petrochemical factories came with numerous economic benefits to Nigeria.
”In the first instance, it will have an enormous impact on job creation by generating thousands of direct jobs and millions of indirect jobs, with over 135,000 permanent jobs.
”I understand that, so far, there are nearly 4,000 Nigerian personnel on site, excluding employment by the various contractors and subcontractors at the project site.
”I am also proud to state that the project will generate up to 12,000MW of electricity.
”In addition, the refinery and the other ancillary projects will have significant multiplier effects on other sectors of the economy by supporting a diverse range of sectoral value-chains,” he added.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the dignitaries at the inauguration are Presidents Gnassingbé Eyadéma of Togo, Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana, Macky Sall of Senegal, Mohamed Bazoum of Niger Republic, and Mahamat Déby of Chad.