Africa’s richest man and the Chairman of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, has said that the country cannot sit on crude oil while it imports virtually all of its fuel.
The Kano-born businessman revealed that the shame of not having a working refinery in Nigeria, despite huge crude oil deposit inspired him into building the Dangote Refinery in Lagos which has gulped $19bn.
The refinery which has been an issue of debate is a 650,000 barrel-per-day capacity refinery.
Nigeria, the continents largest oil crude oil exporter imports almost every of its fuel due to the squalid state of its moribund refineries.
Dangote told Arise Tv that, “What actually inspired me is that when you look at a country like India, where entrepreneurs and also government went ahead and created about 5 million barrels of oil refinery per day and this is a country that they actually don’t have oil at all and we are here now sitting on over 2.4 million barrels per day at a point and we don’t refine any of this oil.”
The refinery which is 6,000 times the size of a football field is projected to commence operation by January 2021.
Worth $12.1bn according to Forbes, Dangote said he hopes to restore the dignity of the Nigerian oil and gas industry.
Nigeria has the tenth largest oil reserves, but its moribund refineries are currently undergoing renovation.
He said, “Where you have a country with over 200 million, and we are importing 100 per cent of what we consume, it is not sustainable. If you go to a lot of areas maybe my village or your village you will see that petrol stations are not working.
“So, we now realised that the petroleum product that we have is ‘hand to mouth’; whatever that we have is what we are consuming. So this actually pushed me into saying that look you know what? This is a big challenge, it is a big issue, somebody has to address it and we will take the challenge of addressing this issue.
“It makes me feel terrible to see a country as big as Nigeria, as resourceful as Nigeria and this sort of population that we have 200 million plus and we are importing all our petroleum products. It is very very painful.”
Dangote however believes that the project will provide millions of direct and indirect employment in the country when completed.
“Government will have more money in terms of education, health and in terms of infrastructure, So, it is going to be a massive transformational stuff,” he added.