Aliko Dangote: Nigeria is importing poverty, let’s export it instead

When you export, you are creating jobs – Nigeria should export whatever it can, says the CEO of the Dangote Group.



Aliko Dangote, the founder, chairman and CEO of the Dangote Group, the largest industrial conglomerate in West Africa, has made a resounding call to Nigeria’s business, banking and political leaders to encourage non-oil exports, citing the Dangote Petrochemical Plant as a prime example of a facility that will boost non-oil export earnings for the country.

Speaking at the 2022 Zenith Bank International Trade Seminar on Non-oil Export on 20 July in Lagos, Dangote drew attention to the low level of Nigeria’s non-oil exports compared with other African top oil producers – in 2021, non-oil exports accounted for only 12% in value of Nigeria’s exports compared with 46% in Algeria and 16% in Angola.

In the past, he said, Nigeria had cocoa, rubber, palm oil and cotton, but they had been abandoned when the country got oil.

“If we had continued with these things they would have given us much more money than the oil,” he asserted.

“If today I were a banker, I would lend money only to export-based industries, because they are safer. I don’t want to give you money to set up a factory when you have to import 80% of your raw materials. It does not make sense.”

Room for growth

“When you import, you are importing poverty into your country… When you export you are creating jobs here and exporting poverty to them. Whatever we can export we should do so,” said the business tycoon. “Why don’t we do something creative? We have the resources.”

Dangote said there is a lot of room for growth and argued that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is helping to achieve this with its RT200 FX programme, which aims at raising non-oil export revenues to $200bn over the next three to five years.

The scheme covers exports of finished and semi-finished goods and requires them to be exported in the Investors & Exporters FX window, with the CBN paying a quarterly incentive of N65 for every dollar repatriated and sold for third party use and N35 for every dollar repatriated and sold for its own use.

Dangote cited the example of his company’s $2bn Petrochemical Plant located at Ibeju-Lekki in Lagos State, which when fully operational will position Nigeria as one of Africa’s largest petrochemicals hubs and boost non-oil export earnings for the country.

The 900,000 tonnes per annum capacity plant, which is being built alongside the 650,000 barrels per day Dangote Petroleum Refinery, will produce polypropylene to cater to the growing plastic processing downstream industries, not only in Africa but also in other parts of the world, the firm says.

He also said that the company’s recently commissioned 3m mtpa Fertiliser Plant has “commenced export to India, North America and Latin America. At steady state, will export two million tons per annum after meeting domestic consumption.”

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