By Our Reporter
Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr Godwin Emefiele has expressed optimism about reduction in the high rate of unemployment in the country, stating that Dangote Refinery alone will employ more than 70,000 able Nigerians when it becomes operational.
He said the various policies of the Federal Government will ultimately reduce unemployment in the country.
The apex bank governor who spoke to the press after the tour of the Refinery over weekend said the Dangote Refinery and Petrochemical Plant is expected to increase the number of employees from the present 34,000 to over 70,000 when it becomes operational.
In the same vein, Aliko Dangote, said he is on a mission to aggressively reduce the unemployment rate in the country.
Apart from job creation, the plant will also retain foreign exchange in Nigeria, as the country becomes self-sufficient in petroleum refining. “Besides, we are going to help in terms of not only creating jobs but also in reducing the outflow of foreign exchange not only in petroleum products but also in petrochemicals, and in fertilizers. We would be one of the highest foreign exchange generating company going forward”, Dangote added.
Dangote said its $2 billion Granulated Urea Fertiliser plant located at Ibeju Lekki, Lagos will begin operations in May.
He said the Fertiliser Plant would make Nigeria the only Urea exporting country in Sub-Saharan Africa, and biggest producer of polyethylene, which is capable of generating $2.5 billion annually.
He said: “Nigeria will soon become the biggest and only urea exporter in sub-Saharan Africa for the first time. And we are not only exporting, we would be exporting big time.
“We are also going to have polyethylene which is about 1.3 million tonnes annually. These two products would bring in something like about $2.5 billion annually in terms of foreign exchange. A lot of Forex would now come in and that $2.5 billion is only about 10 per cent of remittances.
Dangote said a pre-testing of the fertiliser plant has already began, adding that the project would be the largest fertiliser plant in the world with its three million tonnes per annum capacity.
According to him, the refinery project which is 48 per cent completed will make Nigeria the largest exporter of petroleum product in Africa.
He said the size of the project necessitated the need for the company to construct a jetty to take care of the over dimensional cargoes. “It is a huge project and that is why we have built a jetty and the pipeline through which we are bringing in the crude”, he said.
He said: “ One of the reasons the CBN is supporting us is that by the time we become operational, we will not only be creating jobs but we will reduce the outflow, of foreign exchange not only in petroleum products but in petrochemicals and fertilisers.
“We will be one of the highest foreign exchange generating companies going forward.
“I must really confess that without the government’s support there is no way we could have done what we have done so far.
“I think we must thank Mr President for his policies. I thank the CBN governor and management for bringing down interest rates to encourage more entrepreneurs to go into mega projects like this.
“We should not wait for foreign investors to come and develop our economy. It will never happen so we have to do it ourselves and the only way to do it is to take advantage of the low interest rates and the banks being forced to loan money out.”
On his part, the CBN governor commended the Dangote Group for its commitment towards bringing the project on stream as planned and expressed satisfaction with the facilities on site.
He said: “The reason that I am here today is to see what is going on on site.
“This time that the economy is going through its own challenges there is need for us to diversify the Nigerian economy from oil to other areas where we have abundant resources. “
Emefiele said the fertiliser plant would stop importation of fertilisers as about 25 per cent of its products would be used for domestic consumption to boost agriculture in the country.
According to him, the plant will also generate a minimum of $750 million through export annually.
“The 650,000-bpd capacity refinery when operational will not only satisfy local consumption but will also position Nigeria as a major exporter of petroleum products.
“Nigeria is so central and this refinery will serve almost the whole of Africa which will lead to cheap cost of freight.
“This project is so strategically positioned that it will even make the final price of petroleum within Nigeria and even outside Nigeria to be lower than those imported outside the African continent.
“We need to encourage other Nigerians and we will keep saying this. Nigerians must stand tall and be ready to come out and support their country,” the CBN governor said.