The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has expressed its readiness to support the refinery, fertiliser and petrochemical complex being built by Dangote Industries Limited in Lagos by providing foreign exchange for the importation of equipment.
The central bank said the project, when completed, would fetch the country about $6bn in foreign exchange yearly through the export of products from the plants.
The refinery, which has crude processing capacity of 650,000 barrels per day, is expected to come on stream by mid-2018, with major products such as petrol, high speed diesel and Jet A1, while the fertiliser plant is expected to start production next year.
The CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, who spoke during a tour of the project site on Sunday, said:
About two and a half to three years ago, Alhaji Aliko Dangote actually came to the banks. At that time, I was an operator, and he said he wanted to go into fertiliser, petrochemical as well as refinery business.
We started with the fertiliser side of it; but today, these three projects are costing them about $14bn (N2.8tn), out of which he is contributing 50 per cent. I have come here to see so that I can also tell Nigerians that we need to give support to people like Aliko Dangote for what they are doing for Nigeria. This is a time when we are talking about diversifying our economy away from oil.
Noting that the plants would produce ammonia, urea, propylene, polypropylene and other petroleum products, Emefiele said:
These are products that we today import into the country. If we calculate how much the country spends on the importation of these products into Nigeria, consuming foreign exchange, this stands at close to 35 to 40 per cent of our import needs.
We expect that by the time these projects are completed, they will not only meet our domestic needs, Dangote will be exporting these products to the point where he will be selling foreign exchange to Nigerians and the Central Bank of Nigeria to the tune of almost about $6bn a year.
That is the kind of projects that we think we should support, and we think we need to encourage more Nigerians to begin to think like Aliko Dangote. If you have somebody who has contemplated a project of $14bn and he is contributing 50 per cent as equity into that project, we have to give him foreign exchange to import the equipment. We need to support companies like this.