…As fertilizer plant comes on stream March
By Udeme Akpan
THE Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has concluded plans to strengthen the Naira, and by extension the nation’s economy through the $15 billion Dangote Refinery.
Specifically, the CBN governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, who visited the Project at Ibeju Lekki, Lagos, weekend, said: “We have taken the decision to sell the crude to the Refinery in Naira because we want to impact the economy.
“We also hope that by the time the Refinery starts to refine, and sell its petroleum products in Naira, the local currency will be stronger, and by extension the nation’s economy, which is still oil-driven.”
According to him, this is expected to help Nigeria save about 41 per cent of its foreign exchange that is being expended on the importation of refined petroleum products.
Emefiele, who noted that the first shipment of Urea from the Dangote Fertiliser Plant would begin in March 2021, said: “Based on agreement and discussions with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and the oil companies, the Dangote Refinery can buy its crude in Naira, and refine it for Nigerians in Naira’, said: “That is the element where foreign exchange saved for the country becomes very clear. We are also very optimistic that by refining this product here in Nigeria, all those costs associated with either demurrage from import, costs associated with the freight will be totally eliminated.
“This will make the price of our petroleum products cheaper in naira. If we are lucky that what the refinery produces is more than we need locally you will see Nigerian businessmen buying small vessels to take them to our West African neighbours to sell to them in naira.
“This will increase our volume in naira and help to push it into the Economic Community of West African States as a currency.”
Expressing confidence that the refinery would be completed by the first quarter of 2022, Emefiele, said: “I am saying that by this time next year, our cost of import of petroleum products for petrochemicals or fertilizer will be able to save that which will save Nigeria’s reserve. It will help us so that we can begin to focus on more important items that we cannot produce in Nigeria today.”
Emefiele said the CBN had given a N100 billion intervention to the projects, adding that the apex bank is ready to support Nigerian busines-ses set up to uplift the country economically.
Also speaking Aliko Dangote said that the fertilizer and petrochemicals plants are capable of generating $2.5 billion annually while the refinery would serve Nigeria and other countries across the world.
Dangote, who expressed gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari and the CBN Governor for their support toward the completion of the projects, said they would create additional jobs for Nigerians.
“He said: “I will like to thank the president personally for helping us and assisting us in making sure that we are now back on track. “Mr President personally wrote a letter to the president of China and asked them to bring the expatriates that we don’t have so that we can continue work.
“During the coronavirus, you will remember that we had one or two cases when it started and everybody ran away from site but right now we are beginning to bring people back and we have about 30,000 people now.”
He added: “The good part of it is that we have learnt a lot also and there are a lot of Nigerians that just need small training and they are doing extremely well. So now, we only need a small number of people coming from abroad just to give that training.”