Profit in Paradox: Why Dangote’s new oil refinery makes sense for him, and Nigeria

Alhaji Aliko Dangote05 March 2014, Lagos – There aren’t many people who can raise enough money to build a $9 billion oil refinery in Nigeria. Fortunately, Aliko Dangote is one of them. His new project, when it gets off the ground, could revolutionise the Nigerian economy – and, for the first time, allow oil-rich Nigeria to stop importing all its petrol.

Nigeria’s oil paradox is one familiar to many African countries, where an abundance of resources often swamps the ability to use these natural gifts effectively. Nations may have massive supplies of oil, iron or gold, but lack the infrastructure and industrial know-how to process or refine these resources. Out go the raw and rough commodities, loaded onto tankers, trucks and planes and exported to far-away shores; in come the refined and finished products–petrol, automobiles and jewellery–imported at a hefty premium.

In Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer, this paradox is especially pronounced. Nigeria has copious amounts of crude oil. According to the latest available data from OPEC, it produced 1.95m barrels a day (b/d) in 2012, still far less than Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest producer, which pumps out 11.7m b/d. Angola is Africa’s second-largest producer, with 1.5m b/d.

– Daily Marverick

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