Interview, News, Society

Dangote Opens Up

Dangote Group boss, Aliko Dangote has finally bared his mind on why he built multibillion naira Dangote Refinery in Lagos.

He said. “Let me tell you why we had to go into oil. Our strategy was to be an African company. When you look at the other options, it’s agriculture and agriculture doesn’t take that much money.”

“We always invest most of our money back into the business, so when we looked at it in 2015 and projected our revenue for the next few years, we looked at what we had left after investing in fertilizer and realized we still had billions of dollars we could put somewhere else.”

“The only place we could invest that much money was in the oil and gas business. So the refinery takes those dollars and allows us to invest in something we are used to, which is industry.”

“The majority of people here made their money through oil. But we have never dealt with oil, which is to prove that you don’t have to be in oil. In Nigeria, oil has damaged our thinking. Everyone is thinking about oil, oil, oil. And we are one company that has made a success without doing that.”

“Also, people always say, “Oh, he’s in oil and gasthere’s a lot of corruption in oil and gas.” We didn’t want to be a part of that. There are a lot of friends of mine in oil, and they are doing the right things. But I didn’t want to be a suspect, so that’s why we didn’t go into oil earlier.”

“In business, you need to know before you jump into something. You have to do quite a lot of homework.”

“For instance, Nigeria’s refineries were privatized in 2007. We bought two, but after a few months, we had a new government that decided to void the transaction.”

“So, since 2007, we’ve been working on building our refinery, but we didn’t finally start something until 2015. Here the capital investment are huge much larger. And if you are not a big player, you have no way of survival.”

“We had already studied doing 300,000 barrels a day back in 2005. At that time I couldn’t even fathom a larger refinery. I had no financial capacity. Then in about 2010, we paid up Dangote Group’s debts, which amounted to $2 billion, and then started accumulating cash.”

“When we decided to build the refinery of our dreams, we reviewed our plans again and put the figure at 400,000. Then it jumped up to 650,000bpd. So a refinery had been on the drawing table for years, but this is how we were able to finally push it through.”

“I don’t have that worry about not completing it. We have the most robust team anyone can put together, and we’ve been doing this sort of work together for years. We have never failed in delivering any project.”

“It’s an ambitious project, yes, but we have others at that particular site, too. We have a gas pipeline, for instance. We are trying to bring gas to Nigeria.”

“The total gas that will come out is at par with the likes of Shell and other oil firms. This will transform Nigeria because, as we speak, we have about 6,800 megawatts of power capacity that have been installed but not been put to use, the reason being that we don’t have the infrastructure.”

“We don’t want to listen to the critics, because they intend to destroy us. We are using our own money. This is my lifetime project.”

“I have to back it up with my own life to make sure it is delivered. I know that, yes, it’s true, a lot of people have tried to deliver on refineries in the past, mostly governments. They couldn’t.”

“I’m not a person who just likes to throw away money. I spend more money on charitable things than myself. Luckily, myself and my children, have been very disciplined.”

That’s why if you look at it today, because of the way I run my lifestyle, I don’t have any home outside Nigeria. I stay in hotels. Quiet. Simple.”

“My life is not very lavish, and I get very embarrassed if I try to show that I have money. I don’t.”

“I think I always advise people that it’s better to be very communal. In Lagos, I drive myself around on weekends. I ask my driver to go have a rest, and then I drive myself around.”

“I still visit the normal friends I grew up with. My house is open 24 hours a day for them. I mingle with everybody. That’s the only way to get to know what’s going on.”

See also  Dangote Wants BUA Sugar Refinery Shut Down