President of Togo Republic, Faure Gnassingbe on Tuesday lauded the investment drive of the richest man in Africa, Aliko Dangote across the African continent, describing him as a man with a mission to aggressively transform the African economy.
Speaking during the tour of the Dangote Refinery project in Lagos, Gnassingbe said Dangote is a worthy son of Africa who has chosen to buoy the economic activities of the continent with his investments. “Aliko Dangote is our pride in Africa and his aggressive investment drive towards developing the economies of the continent should be lauded” he said.
While welcoming the Togolese President to Lagos state and the Dangote Refinery and Fertilizer projects, Governor of Lagos State, Akinwumi Ambode said the Refinery and Fertilizer projects will change the face of both Lagos state and Nigeria, once it is completed.
According to him, “I understand your interest in the progress of this project Mr President. This investment is one of the biggest in Africa today and it will have a huge impact not only on the economy of all Nigerians but also of the West African region when completed… Apart from creating jobs, this refinery will also contribute immensely to solving the fuel supply challenge in the West African region”
While seeking collaboration with the Togolese government and investors, Ambode lauded Aliko Dangote and thanked him for his confidence in the Lagos economy. He said: “We also thank Aliko Dangote himself for his confidence in the Lagos economy. This project is a strong confirmation that Lagos is a prime investment destination…this project shows that there is a positive investment climate in Lagos which has resulted in massive investors’ confidence. We believe strongly that the future prosperity of West Africa is in collaboration between the government and the private sector”
Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment (MITI) Okechukwu Enelamah described Aliko Dangote as an African Champion that is bent on developing not only Nigeria but Africa as a whole. He said both the Refinery and Fertilizer projects clearly demonstrate the partnership between the Government and the private sector.
According to him: “…What we are seeing here is a demonstration of partnership between the government and the private sector at its best… nobody goes through this site without understanding the power of the private sector to power an economy…We can all envision about what Africans should be but we know we need champions,, I think one thing everybody accept whether you admire, respect or challenge Dangote or not, is that he is indeed an African champion, he is a Nigerian champion and he will continue to be… he has a choice to invest anywhere in the world but he has chosen to invest and reinvest and reinvest in Nigeria and Africa. So we are very interested in what u are doing and we assure you of the support of the government”
Profusely thanking the President of Togo for coming to see the progress of the projects, Dangote revealed that the projects would cost a minimum of $17 billion.
Dangote said the $12 billion refinery would have a capacity of 650,000 barrels a day. He assured that there will be market for the refined products because even in Africa, only three countries have effective functioning refinery with others importing from abroad.
Dangote named the countries with refinery as Egypt, South Africa and Cote d’Ivoire, saying “Our refinery will be ready in the first quarter of 2019. Mechanical completion will be end of 2018 but we will start producing in 2019.”
When the projects fully take off in 2019, Dangote said it would help the country save $5 billion spent on the importation of oil into the country.
The refinery, petrochemicals and fertilizer in one spot according to him is the single largest stream in the world. “This site is the biggest site in the world, the refinery is the biggest single refinery in the world, the petrochemicals is 13 times bigger than Eleme Petrochemicals while the fertilizer plant will be 10 times bugger than former National Fertilizer Company. He explained that the project with the $2 billion fertilizer unit was the funded through loans, export credit agencies and our own equity.
Dangote explained that the diversification of Nigeria economy was long over-due and that one sector that Nigeria can focuses on to rejuvenate the economy is agriculture.
He stated that his investment in fertilizer is one sure way the diversification into agriculture could succeed because according to him, it will amount to little if focus is directed to agriculture and fertilizers would be imported.
He said: “Agriculture is the way to go, but a critical component of that sector is fertilizers, Nigeria has more arable land than China which now is the biggest economy in the world, we can tap into our vast land and produce what we need and even export the remaining.
“By the time we complete this project, there will be opportunity to take on agriculture and say bye to poverty, because there will be jobs, no sector has more job potential than agriculture”
Dangote said the project was an ambitious one and that when completed it will give Nigeria a new economic direction in the quest for diversification of the economy, as excess products would be imported to give Nigeria the much needed foreign exchange. That is when diversification starts.