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Africa: A Visit to Dangote Refinery, Africa’s Largest

With an estimated investment of $15billion, the Dangote Refinery and Petrochemical complex under construction in the Lekki Free Trade Zone, Lagos, is expected to be Africa’s biggest oil refinery upon completion in December 2021.

Like a fairy tale come to life, the magic that is the multibillion-dollar Dangote Refinery and Petrochemical Complex sited on 2,600 hectares of swampland in Ibeju-Lekki area of Lagos can now be seen by all, sceptics and supporters alike.

Promoted by Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, the complex is reputed to have a pipeline infrastructure arguably the largest in the world. It has 1,100 kilometres gas pipeline to handle three billion standard cubic feet of gas per day and a 400MW power plant that can meet Ibadan DISCO’s total power requirement.

It also has a gas processor, the world’s biggest plant for ammonia and urea, used in making plastics and fertilizer, and a fertilizer plant that will utilise the refinery by-products of raw materials. One of its many deliverables is connecting the Niger Delta to the Lekki Free Trade Zone (LFTZ) in Lagos.

Covering a land area of approximately 2,635 hectares – about six times the size of Victoria Island – the refinery complex’s infrastructure facilities include a pipeline system, access roads, tank storage facilities, and crude and product-handling facilities. A marine terminal, including a breakwater, jetty, and harbour, has also been developed as part of the project.

Other facilities developed to support the project include an administrative building, guardhouses, fire station, and pump stations. Dangote has already built a jetty near the project site to receive heavy equipment for the refinery construction.

At the outset, the entire venture was estimated to cost $9bn, with $3bn in equity from the Dangote Group and $6bn to be raised in loan capital to build the world’s largest refinery in an oil-rich nation that relies, alas, on importing petroleum products because of its dilapidated refineries.

Now a $15 billion investment, the refinery arm will have the capacity to process about 650,000 barrels per day of crude oil, making it the largest single-train refinery in the world, satisfying local consumption of over 200 million people and having more than enough to create a market for $11billion per annum of Nigerian crude.

It is equally expected to increase Nigeria’s refining capacity two-fold by processing various light and medium grades of crude to produce Euro-V quality clean fuels including polypropylene, 10.4 million tonnes of gasoline, 4.6Mt of diesel, and 4Mt of jet fuel a year.

“We have other opportunities. Agriculture is there. Petrochemicals are there, Nigeria has more arable land than China. If we finish our gas pipeline, it can generate 12,000 megawatts of power. That’s huge. That’s more than what we are looking for in Nigeria, and we can supply the rest of West Africa,” Dangote had said sometime in 2020.

He added, “Nigeria will soon become the biggest and only urea exporter in sub-Saharan Africa for the first time, and we are not only exporting, but we are also exporting big time. Fertilizer exports alone will generate about $2.5 billion in revenue annually.”

On a tour of the facility last year, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, said when fully operational, the project would increase its workforce from the current 34,000 to over 70,000.

David Pulling of Financial Times describing the layout of the project said, “(It’s) so big, so audacious and so potentially transformative that it is like Africa’s Moon landing and its Panama Canal — a Pyramids of Giza for the industrial age.”

“If Aliko Dangote, the billionaire businessman behind what even he calls his ‘crazy’ $12bn project, can pull it off, he will go down as the continent’s John D Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, and Andrew Mellon combined.”

There was no mistaking the excitement on the visage of billionaire Femi Otedola as he led some of his associates to the gasp-inducing complex last Sunday. Otedola, who would later confess that he had not been there for about a year because of the coronavirus pandemic, said he was impressed by the level of work done so far.

The day after, he posted on his verified Instagram handle: “Yesterday, I visited the Dangote Refinery and Petrochemical project, what I personally call the DANGOTE WONDERLAND. Not been there in a year and now it’s almost completed! Kudos to my brother, Aliko Dangote.”

Call him what you want, but recognise him for what he is: a futuristic magnate cum problem solver and an effective one at that. Dangote is soft-spoken, but the patriotic yet, real believer in Nigeria and her people and potentials, is driven by a fierce determination to bring progress to his beloved Nigeria and the African continent. It is the quality of his choices that distinguishes him from both the dreamy minion and hackneyed aristocrat.

With a combination of guts and genius, he has transmuted from just being an entrepreneur interested in a particular business to becoming a respected and renowned empire builder. He is one of those risk-taking individuals that struck out on new paths, rather than travel the worn paths of accepted success, to prosper themselves and their society.

No wonder that every year, he tops the rating of billionaires. According to Forbes’ latest list of Africa’s 2021 billionaires released Friday, January 22nd, Dangote maintained his top position as the richest man in Africa — for the 10th consecutive time — with a net worth of $12.1 billion from last year’s $10.1 billion.

“For the tenth year in a row, Aliko Dangote of Nigeria is the continent’s richest person, worth $12.1 billion, up by $2bn from last year’s list, thanks to a roughly 30 per cent rise in the shares of Dangote Cement, by far his most valuable asset,” Forbes said.