Recently, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, was ona facility tour of Dangote Refinery in Lekki, Lagos. On the sidelines of the visit, the refinery’s Group Executive Director, Strategy, Portfolio Development and Capital Projects, Devakumar Edwin, spoke with MUYIWA LUCAS about how the refinery will be a show stopper and a huge foreign exchange earner for the country.
Nigerians are looking up to when Dangote Refinery will become operational as they are optimistic that it will be a huge relief in a multi-dimensional way. Can you tell us when it would be ready?
The refinery will be ready for inauguration before the end of the tenure of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023. By the grace of God, Mr. President will come and inaugurate it before the end of his tenure. Efforts to complete the refinery are in top gear, particularly as it would create jobs and generate more taxes, which would be used by the government to develop the country further. Again, in the near future, through the refinery, more employment opportunities would be created while we keep doing new things and paying our taxes, which will complement the government’s effort in providing education, and good health,among others.
Do you export fertiliser from your jetty to other countries?
By the grace of God, we have completed the fertiliser plant and have gone into production. We have commenced export to the United States, Mexico, and Brazil. Now, this ship (pointing to a vessel on the ocean) is going to Argentina. We also send it to India. In addition, each ship can handle about 32,000 tonnes.
What does the economy stand to gain from this massive investment?
Dangote Refinery is a huge opportunity for the country to gain foreign exchange (forex). The whole idea is to focus on natural gas. We are trying to export gas and add value to the country, generate employment and create huge opportunities.
What can you say about the capacity of the refinery, particularly on its rating from global economy perspective?
What I can say is that the refinery is the world’s largest single train petroleum refinery and was designed to maximise production of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) with a capacity of about 53 per cent compared to 20 per cent by other refineries.The petroleum refinery can meet 100 per cent of the requirements of Nigeria, of the liquid products – gasoline (PMS), Diesel (AGO), Kerosene (DPK) and Aviation Jet Fuel (Jet A-1). While 60 per cent of the production of this petroleum refinery can meet the entire requirement of Nigeria, the rest 40 per cent will go for export, generating huge amount of foreign exchange. In fact, the refinery is of a strategic national importance as it will solve the perennial challenge of fuel scarcity, and boost massive employment for Nigerians.
Are you not worried about potash scarcity as a result of the Russian/Ukrainian conflict?
Not at all, there is no need for worry as only 26 per cent of the world’s potash supply comes from the two countries.There are other countries that have it, it is not only Ukraine that has it. Yes, Ukraine and Russia have about 26 per cent of the world’s potash. That means it can be sourced from elsewhere. So, I am not really very concerned, the concern is just about price.
From the perspective of facts and figures, what is the state of preparedness of the refinery?
Let me say 75 per cent hydraulic testing of the refinery as well as 70 per cent of electrical cable fitting have been completed preparatory to the completion in the fourth quarter of this year as I earlier assured.The refinery, which boasts of 4.742 billion litres storage capacity, will serve as a strategic reserve for the country. Again, 75 per cent of the products of the refinery (petrol, kerosene, aviation fuel and diesel) will be dispatched through the sea, by which products could be transported to Calabar, Warri, Lagos and Port Harcourt. The refinery is being built at a cost of $19 billion while the fertiliser plant costs $2.5 billion.
Recently, Dangote Industries Limited sponsored the International Trade fairs in Abeokuta and Enugu. Why?
First and foremost, let me say the need to help in revving up commerce, industry and economic activities in the country was the motivation behind the sponsorships. As you are aware, the trade fair in Abeokuta was organised by the Ogun Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture while Enugu Trade Fair was powered by Enugu Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture. Besides these fairs, Dangote Group also was the major sponsor of the recently concluded Kaduna Trade Fair.
Was it because five of Dangote Group’s subsidiaries participated in both fairs that such magnanimous support was rendered?
Not at all! The support was altruistic. It is in our nature to always support any activity we considered to be of benefit to the nation’s economy. As you are aware, Dangote Industries is a good corporate citizen.The evidence is there. The subsidiaries that participated in the both fairs cut across Dangote Cement, Dangote Sugar, NASCON, Dangote Oil Refinery and Dangote Fertiliser.Their participations were necessitated by the fact that trade fairs have become veritable avenues for our subsidiaries to bond with their customers. In fact, the fairs afforded our officials from Dangote Fertiliser that was recently inaugurated to operate a special helpdesk for customers and farmers who want information on distribution and application of fertiliser. The desk was manned by well-trained officers who were groomed to answer questions and inquiries on the use of fertiliser. NASCON gave its customers a good treat at the fair even as it added to the richness of products like Danq seasoning and stew/soup mixes and also embarked on an expansion of its distribution network to make the product more readily accessible to consumers. Dangote Sugar Refinery took its product ranges to the fair, while its Sales/Marketing team was fully on ground to attend to customers and prospective new distributors. Customers were encouraged to visit the stand and buy products at Trade Fair prices. Dangote Cement, which is a regular participant at the fairs, operated an office at the Dangote Group Pavilion where customers and users of its cement products were encouraged to visit the office during the event for consultations with the team which was on ground. The fair offered opportunities to customers and other visitors to the fairs who intend becoming distributors of any of the products from Dangote Group subsidiaries to be well informed by staff of the companies who were on hand to put the customers through on how to go about it.
The Board of Directors and President of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, recently went to Abuja to see President Muhammadu Buhari. Was the visit about intimating him ahead of the inauguration of the refinery within the year?
No, we went to pay him a courtesy call and also to thank him for coming to inaugurate our fertiliser plant on March 22, 2022, that is about four weeks ago. So, we went to see him to show gratitude to Mr. President and we were well received.