Media men had a piece of Aliko Dangote last weekend. And when they were done many appreciated why he is one of the richest in the world. In an interactive session with senior editors Dangote discussed state of the nation while explaining some details in his businesses that are geared towards a better life for Nigerians. His tremendous knowledge in many areas awed the audience.
His take on Oil subsidy
The issue with subsidy is that government needs to block all loopholes. If there’s no subsidy, it will affect our foreign exchange, we’ll end up buying a dollar at N500, because there’s no VAT on petroleum products. That’s why the import of petroleum products is taking about 30% of our foreign reserve. We just need to make sure that there’s no siphoning of money. The refining business requires volume. If you don’t have a massive volume, there’s no way you’ll make money. Most of the refineries in Africa are running at a big loss. It’s not possible for government officials to successfully manage oil businesses. It’s good enough if they remove the subsidy, but you can check with neighbouring countries like Senegal. If a poor person in Senegal can afford to pay subsidy, why can’t a poor person in Nigeria afford to pay. I think there must be something for the masses, which should be in terms of power, social insurance, good education system, good roads etc.
We are building a refinery and our refinery will make more money if there is subsidy. We have changed the size of the refinery three times because we are looking at the maximum we can do that has ever been done. We started with about 400,000, then we shifted to 500,000. Now, we took it to 650,000 barrels per day. That’s the biggest ever single line thresh of refinery. It’s a huge plant and it comes with a lot of challenges, but at the end of the day, it will save us a substantial amount of money. Presently, about 38% of our foreign exchange goes to petroleum products, so I think that will totally eliminate it and eliminate all the imports. We will also be able to export and we won’t do it all by ourselves. Other refineries will produce. Even if other refineries are not working, we’ll be able to satisfy 100% local demand and we’ll be able to export massively. Five to ten people can make Nigeria a great economy. We have to encourage Nigerians to invest at home.
I think there will not be an improvement in job creation unless people go into Agriculture. I know even in Agriculture, there’s money. We are also doing four sugarcane factories. We want to export sugar. We are doing a lot of sugar and rice and I think that in the next four to five years, we’ll be able to create about 180,000 jobs.
There are only two countries in the whole of West Africa that eat parboiled rice – Nigeria and Sierra-Leone. Other neighbouring countries eat white rice. So, what’s the business of Republic of Benin collecting ships of parboiled rice to Niger.
How can Niger eat two billion tons of rice? We have no business importing sugar, there’s so much land and water here. God has given us these things and we have to use them. Today, Ethiopia is growing rapidly, but the mainstay of their economy is agriculture.