President of the Dangote Group and Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, has described himself as a proud Nigerian with no house outside the country. He also said that his company has come under criticisms over the amount of foreign exchange it has received from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), when in reality, it didn’t receive as much as is being speculated.
“Yes, I have money but I don’t have properties or even a house outside Nigeria,” said the businessman last weekend, during an inspection tour of his massive refinery, gas, petrochemical and fertiliser project in Lagos with vice president Yemi Osinbajo. “Wherever I go, I stay in an hotel. This means that every amount of money we make here, we throw it back into the country. That is why we are doing all these.”
Dangote and his company have been accused of getting preferential treatment from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) which gives it forex at rates cheaper than what other manufacturers have to source from the black market. He said that the controversy over forex allocation to his company arose after the CBN governor visited the project site and promised to render whatever assistance the refining and petrochemical project required.
Dangote stated that the $100 million used in acquiring the land and another $300 million capital used in starting the project were sourced by the company.
“The loan for this project was taken by Dangote Industries, which is the holding company because the refinery is a brand new company and nobody will give you money for a brand new company.
“Dangote Industries used its balance sheet to borrow the money and there is an interest element that will have to be paying because we took the money since 2014. So the interest since 2014 to date is $173 million.
“That is the only forex we have received from the CBN for this plant out of the $12 billion we are using to build this plant.
“If you look at the fertilizer complex, the forex is in two components but they are all below $600 million out of $2 billion. So we have always been trying our best,” he said.
Responding to reports that his company got $161 million in 11 weeks from the CBN, Dangote said that the amount wasn’t even sufficient for the scale of foreign funds needed to run his operations.
“Yes, I don’t want to dispute the figures but even if we got $161 million in 11 weeks – 11 weeks is roughly three months; but we need about $98 to $100 million every month for the operations of Dangote Flour Mills, Dangote Sugar, Dangote Cement and diesel to fuel our 9,000 trucks.
“We are a company that minds its business and we don’t complain. When the exchange rate was moved from N197 to N280, we lost $420 million and that is almost N50 billion,” he said.
He described his Lekki project as “the largest single project anywhere in the world – be it fertilizer, gas pipeline, petrochemical or refinery. This is the largest single refinery in the world. The petrochemical plant that we have is 13 times bigger than the Eleme Petrochemical plant; what we are doing in terms of fertilizer is 10 times that of NAFCON (now Notore Fertilizer). It is the largest fertilizer plant in Africa.”