By Yunus Yusuf
The African Export-Import Bank (AFREXIMBANK) on Thursday said that it would assist the Dangote Group to access foreign exchange and funding for its 14 billion dollars refinery projects.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Dr Okey Oramah, the President, AFREXIMBANK, gave the assurance during a tour with its board members to the refinery which is projected to refine 650,000 barrels of crude oil per day.
The tour of the facility was held at its location within the Lekki Free Trade Zone in Lagos.
Oramah said that the board members decided to visit Dangote group which is a leading African conglomerate business in West Africa and provide support to its ongoing refinery projects.
He said that Dangote was making tremendous impacts across the continent which included Tanzania, The Gambia, Zambia, Niger and other parts of Africa and changing lives.
“We are supporting them in what they are doing in those countries, so we are equally supporting them in this ongoing project, so, it is important for the Board of Directors of AFREXIMBANK to pay a courtesy a visit to the site.
“It is important to come and see firsthand the project that is ongoing because we are also planning to support them to ensure the project is delivered on scheduled.
“We are looking at providing all necessary support both financial and otherwise to ensure that the project is completed within the time frame.
“We are also looking at providing support widow for Dangote group that will be used to fund its projects to completion.
“The impacts of the projects are not going to be felt in Nigeria alone but across Africa,especially West African, so for us it’s a strategic partnership were building.
“If we help them to impact lives across the continent, they will equally help in delivering on our mandate to meet the objective of AFREXIMBANK.
“It’s a wonderful facility that needs to be publicised to the world, the projects is the largest in the world which will supply not only Nigeria but West Africa,’’ he added.
In his remarks, Chief Operating Officer, Dangote Industries Ltd., Mr Olakunle Alake, said that the board members of AFREXIMBANK which he called partners from Cairo in Egypt came to see the level mof ongoing project.
Alake said that the Fertilizer plant project was gradually nearing completion stage, adding that work had also commenced on the refinery project.
He said that foreign exchange still remained a major challenge to the projects, adding that the forex had moved up from N280 per dollar to N 310 now, which had further increased the company’s losses.
According to him, there are still serious challenges in sourcing for foreign exchange.
“it s a challenge we found ourselves. We are posed to complete the projects within the time frame to ease the forex problem.
“ We are engaging the Federal Government to support the private initiatives by providing funding to the projects.
“Government through the Bank of Industry (BoI) schemes has given us credit facility of N50 billion to develop the fertilizer plant project.
“We have also gotten another approval of N75 billion for the refinery which we have not disbursed,’’ he said.
The COO of Dangote said that the 17 billion dollars refinery project would crash the price of petrol because the product would be refined in the country and would therefore save some costs incurred in the import market.
He urged government to sincerely pursue the diversification of the economy.
He said that projects such as these were needed to wean Nigeria from relying solely on oil as well as optimise government revenue.
According to him, the best way of diversification for Nigeria is agriculture and out fertelizer plant is in line with that goal.
“ By the time we finish out gas pipeline, it can generate about 12,000MW and we can export to other African countries.
“We would have the capacity to store four billion litres of products, and can load 2,680 trucks per day.
“ Nigeria will save 7.5 billion dollars yearly from the project when completed,’’ he said.
Alake said the plant’s basic engineering was currently at 98 per cent completion, while the construction stood at 30 per cent.
He said that the project would aid the country with about 7.5 billion dollars forex savings on import substitution; generate $5 billion forex earnings from savings and another 5.5 billion dollars export earnings.
The plant, according to him, will generate over 100,000 employment opportunities and revive over 11,000 filling stations that had been shut down due to shortage of products.
He said the project was designed to process largely variety of crudes including all African crudes, a range of Middle Eastern crudes and U.S crudes.