Why Africa hasn’t built any refinery in 35 years — Dangote

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Africa’s richest person and Chairman of the 650,000 barrels per day Dangote Refinery, Lekki, Lagos State, Aliko Dangote, has pinned the inability of African governments to built a single refining facility in the last 35 years to people benefitting from massive fuel imports into the continent.

Dangote marshalled his position in a recent clip from an interview conducted with him by CNN’s Eleni Giokos.

Dangote said although he had gained a lot of experience from building the $19 billion refinery, he would have a rethink if he knew beforehand the huge challenge with building such a facility on the continent.


According to the billionaire businessman: “I’ve learned that there are other countries in Africa, all the African countries that have been trying to build refineries, but they have not been able to.

“There has not been a refinery in the last 35 years.

“There are so many issues.

“I can’t count them, but there are so many.

“It’s not only money, political will, but also people who are benefiting from this whole stuff of importing petroleum products into Africa are actually discouraging those governments from building a refinery.

“And they won’t get the loans anyway, because they don’t have very strong banks.

“The international banks will not support anything like this.”

Speaking on the challenges encountered while building the refinery, Dangote explained that he had to dredge a lot of sand, over 65 million tonnes, before work could start on the project.

He disclosed further that he and his team carried out the Engineering, Procurement and Construction for the project on their own because of the initial difficulties encountered.

Dangote explained that the fertiliser complex near the refinery was three million tonnes, stressing that he felt great being able to pull off the construction of the Dangote Refinery.

He said: “I feel very proud as an African doing this.

“Nobody ever expected us to pull this through.

“A lot of people had given up.

“But we’ve been able to deliver.

“Now it (the project) is about $19 billion, almost $19 billion.

“And we had to become an engineering, procurement, and construction contractor.

“So all the others are actually just subcontractors.

“So we built it (on our own).”

Dangote stressed that many people did not expect the project to come to fruition, including those he said were a source of discouragement to him.

When asked if he would have embarked on it knowing how hard it was going to be, he said: “Actually, yes.

“If I’m going to do it now, I will do it better.

“Because I’ve learnt from experience.

“But if I knew what I was going to go through, I wouldn’t have tried.”

Dangote explained that he was warned not to embark on the humongous project, but that he thought they were only trying to discourage him.

“They did, but I thought they were just trying to discourage me,” he said.

The business mogul also added that foreign aid and investments will not build Africa, explaining that Africans will have to develop the continent on their own.

Dangote said: “But we have to make sure we focus and say, look, we are the only ones that can deliver.

“We Africans are the only people that can develop Africa.

“If we’re waiting for foreigners or foreign investors to come and develop Africa, it will never happen.”

Addressing the issue of what’s next for the company, Dangote said: “We will keep looking at the next opportunities: petrochemicals, upstream, we will look at those opportunities and keep flying.

“The sky is the limit.”