Another chapter will this year be opened in the downstream sector of the petroleum industry, when business mogul Alhaji Aliko Dangote kicks off his plan to establish a refinery in the country.
The federal government had, in 2011, granted approval to 19 multinationals for the setting up of private refineries in the country, but none of them has come on stream due to the regulation of the price of fuel in the country.
Though details of where the refinery will be sited and its capacity were yet to be made known, work on the refinery, which will cost $8 billion, will begin this year.
At a breakfast meeting with some senior editors to mark his 57th birthday in Lagos, Alhaji Dangote said work will start on the refinery once his company secured the final approval from the federal government.
While acknowledging the fact that only a mad businessman would consider establishing a refinery in Nigeria under the present uncertain business terrain of subsidising the downstream sector of the petroleum industry, Dangote pleaded with the government to allow market forces to determine the price of fuel to allow the private sector play a significant role in the industry.
“We are all aware that the federal government had issued 19 licences to the private sector to establish refineries in the country, but how many of them have come on stream? There is uncertainty in the sector and only a mad businessman will put up a refinery now, but we are set to do that,” he said.
Alhaji Dangote urged the federal government to put in place critical infrastructure in all sectors of the economy to kick-start its rapid development.
He said that with the country’s population expected to hit 200 million by 2015, there were no serious plans to take care of the huge population.
He also called on the government to diversify the economy by intensifying reforms in agriculture.