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Nigeria achieved a significant milestone on Monday with the commissioning of the Dangote oil refinery, hailed as a “game-changer” that could put an end to the country’s dependence on fuel imports. Outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari presided over the ceremony at the Lekki free trade zone in Lagos, joined by several West African heads of state.

The Dangote Group, owned by Africa’s wealthiest man Aliko Dangote, invested a staggering $20 billion in the construction of this colossal refinery. With a capacity to process 650,000 barrels per day, it aims to produce a daily output of 53 million liters of gasoline, 4 million liters of diesel, and 2 million liters of aviation jet fuel.

During the inauguration, Dangote proudly proclaimed the refinery as “the world’s largest single train refinery.” This state-of-the-art facility holds the potential to address Nigeria’s longstanding petroleum challenges. Despite being a major oil producer in Africa, Nigeria has been grappling with a lack of domestic refining capacity, leading to hefty imports from countries like India, Belgium, the UAE, and the Netherlands.

According to OPEC, between 2015 and 2019, Nigeria’s expenses for importing refined petroleum products surpassed its exports by $58.5 billion. This situation not only drained billions of dollars from the country but also exposed it to vulnerabilities in the supply chain, disrupting the availability of fuel within its borders.

The Dangote refinery assumes critical importance as it intends to resolve these issues by doubling Nigeria’s refining capacity. Additionally, it will boost domestic fuel demand and generate foreign exchange through exports, bolstering the country’s economy. Dangote emphasized that the refinery’s operations would ensure a steady supply of high-quality fuels for transportation and provide essential raw materials for various industries, fostering manufacturing and industrial growth.

To finance the construction of the refinery, approximately 50% of the funds came from Dangote’s equity investment, while the remaining half was secured through debt finance from banks such as Access and Zenith banks.

We have built a refinery with a capacity to process 650,000 barrels per day in a single train — which is the largest in the world… We decided on a plant designed with state-of-the-art technology and a scale in capacity that will be a game-changer in Africa and the global market.” Dangote proudly stated.

Situated within the expansive Lekki Free Zone, spanning over 16,500 hectares, the refinery is part of a grand masterplan that includes proposed developments such as an airport, a start-up community, and commercial and residential areas.

The Head of Nigeria’s Central Bank, Godwin Emefiele, expressed confidence in the refinery’s ability to meet the nation’s domestic fuel consumption needs, given its impressive processing capacity. Emefiele further emphasized that Nigeria could attain self-sufficiency in all the products it consumes while simultaneously exporting the excess output to the global market.

Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo, who attended the commissioning event, described the Dangote refinery as a “spectacular project” that will make West Africa stronger and better. To put the refinery’s massive size into perspective, it spans over 2000 hectares, seven times larger than Lagos’ Victoria Island.

With the inauguration of the Dangote oil refinery, Nigeria has taken a significant step towards reclaiming its position as a self-sufficient oil producer, fostering economic growth, and driving the development of the entire West African region.