Aliko Dangote, the 61-year old Nigerian billionaire who is Africa’s richest man with a 2018 net worth of about $13.8 billion, has been married twice, divorced twice and is seriously looking for a third wife. But for now, his focus is on the $16 billion refinery he’s building in the commercial city of Lagos.
The oil refinery on 6,180 acres of swampland would process 650,000 barrels of crude oil daily, making it the world’s largest single line when it is completed between 2020 and 2022.
Mr Dangote insists production would begin in the first quarter of 2020, but most analysts believe it would certainly begin in 2022.
For now, Nigeria has four under-performing refineries with a combined capacity of 445,000 barrels daily.
Two of those refineries are located in the oil hub of Port Harcourt, one in Warri in the Niger Delta, and the other in the northern city of Kaduna. They all operate at less than 50 percent of capacity.
But Mr. Dangote’s project in a free-trade zone between the Atlantic Ocean and the Lekki Lagoon would produce enough gasoline and kerosene to all Nigerians and still have plenty to export.
Nigeria is Africa’s top oil producer but corruption in the oil and gas industry has made sure the refineries do not work so the government can keep sending crude abroad to refine and bring back refined products.
Those who take the crude abroad are known as oil marketers, often some cronies of those in power, who make billions of dollars every year.
Dangote’s refinery in Lagos, almost 400 miles away from the Niger Delta where Nigerian oil is produced and often also vandalized, would certainly end the country’s dependence on oil importation.
Over 7000 people are working around the clock at the refinery and hundreds are said to be training abroad to take up jobs once the project is completed.
To build the world’s single line refinery, Dangote says he had to build special roads and a seaport to receive equipment in a city where infrastructure is dilapidated.
With the new project and a possible IPO in London on his cement firm after the Nigerian elections in February 2019, he hopes to increase Dangote Group’s revenues from $4 billion a year to $30 billion.
Mr. Dangote may be looking for a third wife, and wishing to buy Arsenal soccer club in the United Kingdom, but he has so much to worry about at the moment.
Simon is a renowned international journalist, founder and publisher of TODAY NEWS AFRICA in Washington D.C.