• Friday, June 21, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Dangote has paid back 70% of loans used in constructing refinery — Godwin Emefiele 

Is the giant of Africa finally awakening?

Godwin Emefiele, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), said that the Dangote Group has paid back about 70 percent of the loans it took to construct its mega 650,000 bpd refinery in Lagos.

Emefiele made this revelation on Monday during the ground-breaking ceremony to commission the refinery, which has been described as Africa’s biggest refinery and among the six biggest in the world.

Read also:Dangote Refinery products hit market August this year

“The Dangote Group has paid down its total loans outstanding on this Refinery project from $ 9 billion to $2.7billion today. This is a reflection of the credit worthiness of the Dangote Group,” Emefiele said.

The CBN governor also praised Nigerian banks, which, despite the challenging macroeconomic environment, decided to halt interest and principal payments on loans to the group to ensure this project got finished.

“Your excellences, please permit me at this junction to appreciate all the Nigerian banks who not only partnered with the project through effective financing but were keenly aware of the importance of the project to our country.

“They provided immense support and exceptional understanding, even when interest and principal payments were almost overdue. They were patient with the Dangote Group,” he added.

Emefiele also praised President Buhari for supporting the indigenous effort to drive domestic production and “ensure that Nigeria produces what we consume and that we consume what we produce.”

He added, “This refinery and petrochemical project is a testament to your vision for Nigeria, and it shows that regardless of where the world stands and what that world thinks, Nigeria can be self-sufficient in all products that we consume and at the same time export our excess output to the rest of the world.

“Your excellences, please permit me to recall the events leading to Nigeria’s eviction from the J.P. Morgan index in 2017 following their pessimism of Nigeria’s economic outlook and our ability to take charge of our fortunes. At that time in 2017, we explained the ongoing efforts to diversify our economy through import substitution and export promotion strategies to attain sustainability and self-sufficiency.

“Our friends that we spoke to abroad were very sceptical, saying that Nigeria typically crafts brilliant policies that could engender diversification but lacked the ability to fully implement them.

“Even when we insisted that under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, the ongoing project and his effort would be actively implemented to diversify the economy and make the country globally competitive, they still doubted us. Aside from enumerating our strategic efforts in agriculture and other critical sectors.”

He stated that one of the driving forces that helped actualize this dream was the scepticism of the foreign investors, who couldn’t fathom the idea of a single individual constructing a refinery of that size—something that is only possible when states collaborate.

“To them, our foreign friends, projects of this magnitude are usually undertaken by our sovereigns, not individuals, but like Nelson Mandela once said, “it seems impossible until it is done,” he reiterated.

He explained that with this project becoming a reality, a chunk of our foreign exchange would be saved.

“Under your leadership and the incoming administration of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Nigeria will seize to import petroleum products, fertiliser, and petrochemicals that drain over $26 billion in foreign exchange in 2022.

“The self-sufficiency in refined petroleum, urea, and petro-polypropylene that Nigeria will achieve with this project is a strong testament to our leadership, dedication, focus, and commitment,” he noted.

He listed a few significant and instantaneous benefits of the refinery, which include the over 135,000 direct jobs that would be created and the 12,000 megawatts of electricity that would be generated.

“The takeoff of this refinery comes with numerous benefits to Nigeria. In the first instance, it will generate thousands of direct jobs, including over 135,000 permanent jobs and over 12,000 megawatts of electricity.

“More importantly, this project avails Nigeria with significant savings both in terms of foreign exchange and easing the physical burden on our federal government,” he stated.