To the admiration of key financial sector operators present, the Dangote Fertilizer Limited at the weekend announced the formal commencement of production of Urea in commercial quantity and the plan to hit the Nigerian market today (Monday).
In what industry watchers have described as a potent step to liberalize of the fertilizer market and further enhance the agricultural production, President of the Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote told the visitors that the plant, with a capacity to churn out three million metric tonnes per annum of urea, has been classified as the biggest project in the entire fertiliser industry in the world.
He told top bankers including the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, who were on hand to witness the commencement of production “this Phase 1 of the project, which is estimated to cost $2.5 billion, is to manufacture 3mmtpa of urea per annum. This capacity will later be expanded to produce multi grades of fertilisers to meet soil, crop and climate specific requirements for the African continent.
According to Dangote, the fertiliser plant would make Nigeria the biggest urea exporting country in sub-Saharan Africa and biggest producer of polypropylene and polyethylene.
The Fertiliser complex consists of Ammonia and Urea plants with associated facilities and infrastructure, to produce 3 MMTPA Urea. The complex comprises: 2 x 2,200 MTPD Ammonia Plants based on Halder Topsoe technology, 2 x 4,000 MTPD Melt Urea Plants based on Snamprogetti technology, and 2 x 4,000 MTPD Urea Granulation Plants based on Uhde Technology.Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Chairman, Dangote Group, made the disclosure at the facility’s final inspection tour by the Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, on Friday in Ibeju Lekki, Lagos.
The CBN Governor was at the plant in company with senior bankers, who consisted of Chief Executive Officers of First Bank, Guarantee Trust, Access Bank Plc, United Bank of Africa and Zenith Bank.
Dangote said: “The three million tonnes of Urea is certified, licensed by all regulatory authorities in Nigeria. We have gotten all licenses from the National Security Adviser, the Ministry of Agriculture, Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), NAFDAC and all other authorities.
“So, our Urea will be in the market from Monday, and by God’s grace before the end of this month, we will start bringing in dollars from the first line that we have commissioned. He added that the urea is a small percentage utilization of gas that the country is actually flaring.
He said the company planned to saturate the market with Urea and having already collected the database of farmers would also ensure adequate training of farmers on best application of Urea. “Our primary interest is to saturate the local market. Training farmers will help to sustain farming activities, and this will ensure food security.”
Dangote commended Mr. Emefiele and the banks CEOs for being there to ensure the success of the plants, adding that the time had come for the country to move away from selling crude oil to value added petroleum products.
He urged them to target mostly gas-based industries so the country’s economy could improve and make a lot of dollars.
“We need to look at transforming the industrial capacity of the country earning dollars and at the same time doing what we call import substitution,” Dangote noted.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Emefiele said that Nigeria has the potential to export at least 3.5 million metric tonnes of urea to different parts of the world.
“Nigeria needs between 1 million metric to 1.5 million metric tonnes of Urea to meet the local demand. So, we have potentials to export at least three to four million metrics tonnes of Urea to different parts of the world. With this latest development, Nigeria has become one of the major producers of Urea in the world. This for me, is a story, which no one would have believed would happened in Nigeria.”
“Nigeria now ranks amongst the leading countries in the production of Urea in the world. This, for me is a story that no one would have believed will happen in Nigeria,” he said.
He also said that the mechanical commissioning of the Petrochemical and Refinery plant would kick off by the end of the first quarter of next year.” Dangote has committed that mechanical completion will be achieved by the end of this year and we are expecting that the refinery will be completed by the first quarter of next year,” he added.
Speaking on behalf of the bankers, Mr. Herbert Wigwe, the Group Managing Director of Access Bank Plc, expressed joy for the support they gave to Dangote to create a world class manufacturing enterprise in Nigeria.
”There was a lot of skepticism along the way as we moved on; can this project be completed, are we sure we have the right financing models and all of that.
“Today we saw Urea produced, we saw it bagged and we saw it loaded on trucks, and by Monday it will be in our markets. This for us is a very important milestone for Nigeria and Africa”, Wigwe stated.