Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man and President of Dangote Group has said that his investment in oil and gas sector was aimed at transforming Nigeria’s economy from single commodity market to a sustainable diversified economy.
Speaking on Saturday when he hosted a forum of international business leaders and dozens of Nigerian business executives from Lagos Business School (LBS) at his refinery site in Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos, he said his mission was to take out Nigeria out of the burden of import-dependency and make the country achieve self-sufficiency in the trade of commodities it has spent its earnings to import.
The billionaire reeled out his investment strategies when he hosted a forum of international business leaders and dozens of Nigerian business executives from Lagos Business School (LBS) at his multi-billion dollars refinery site in Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos, on Saturday.
He said on completion of his refinery and petrochemical projects next year, it would have created 60,000 direct jobs for Nigerians, with millions of indirect jobs created in the value chain.
He said the entire landscape where the refinery project is being built is six times bigger than the entire Victoria Island in Lagos, while the site of Dangote Petrochemical Project is 10 times bigger than Eleme Petrochemical Industry in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
Describing it as the largest single-train petrochemical facility in the world, Dangote said the crude oil processing factory was designed to refine 650,000 barrels per day.
He said the facility was completely designed for Nigerian crude oil, with the flexibility to process petroleum from other countries and that he was building Africa’s largest urea plant to produce three million tons of fertilizers yearly.
“Everything we are doing here is basically to transform the Nigerian economy. And it is not only to transform but to also diversify our economy from single commodity market. We are taking a bold step through this petrochemical project to create values that would help us to achieve this aim,” he said.
He noted that his business had grown from a commodity trading company to a diversified global conglomerate in the last two decades, saying he was plunging huge investment into energy production and agriculture across the West Africa to close the deficit in food production and export.
He said his company’s EWOGGS Pipeline Project would unlock significant gas supply to address the country’s energy needs, which he said required billion of dollars annual investment.
He lamented high cost of electricity being supplied to industries, saying his businesses depend wholly on the energy generated by his company, which, he said was cheaper than public electricity.
He said his company made the greatest impact on the Nigerian economy on investment in the cement business, which, he said, made the country to move out of cement import-dependency to self-sufficiency.
He said his firm had mapped out strategies to re-create similar feats in agriculture, energy, construction, fertilizer and petrochemical sectors to drive economic growth.
The objective, he said, is to make Nigeria have multiple sources of revenue generation and create a platform for irreversible growth in diverse sectors of the economy.
He said: “What made Nigeria go into recession was the lack of growth. Unless growth is happening in different sectors of the economy, it would be very difficult for the economy to sustain itself. I believe that, until Nigeria diversify its economy, we would be coming out of one problem to the other, because the economy cannot rely on oil alone.
“We are investing heavily in agriculture and this is one area people don’t understand the impact of farming on the economy. Ethiopia, as a country, depends largely on agriculture and grows its economy. Its GDP (Gross Domestic Product) did not collapse unlike what we experience in Nigeria, which largely depends on oil. This is a lesson for us. Agriculture is expanding and we have no choice than to implement major restructuring and diversification of the economy.”
Dangote said the success of his company in business in the last two decades rested on a five-pillar investment strategy, which includes identifying where to play, efficient execution of business plans, effective operations of personnel, integration and driving of efficiency across the value chain, and local sourcing of raw materials.
He added that he had the habit of taking the risk of investing at the period when investors were afraid of venturing into investment.
Dangote hailed the Federal Government’s Forex policy, saying there had been over $2.3 billion fresh capital inflow since the reforms were carried out.
He said more capital inflow would be experienced if the government further relaxes the FX policy.
On his expansion drive across Africa, Dangote said his brand had moved from commodity trading to energy production in Senegal and that his company now makes extra profit by selling excess energy it generated to Senegalese communities at a cheap rate.
Despite improved political stability, settled macro-economic environment and rapidly expanding middle-class in Africa, Dangote said the collapse of commodity prices, huge infrastructure deficit, corruption and low intra-trade agreements remained the bane of the continent’s growth.
He called on African leaders to abolish restrictive visa procedures and tariff regimes, noting that the continent would be shut against foreign investments if its borders are not easily accessible.
He cited Angola as an example of countries into which investors may find difficult to venture, because of stringent visa procedure.