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Dangote: We’ve repaid $2.4bn of $5.5bn borrowed to fund refinery | Oil mafia fighting us

Aliko Dangote Aliko Dangote

Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest person, says he has repaid about $2.4 billion of the $5.5 billion borrowed to build his $19 billion refinery.

Speaking at the Afreximbank annual meetings (AAN) and AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum in Nassau, The Bahamas, on Wednesday, Dangote said several entities, both local and foreign, did everything to sabotage the 650,000 barrels per day facility.

The businessman said many individuals thought the project was going to fail, adding that if not for the support of Afreximbank and Access Bank, the vision would have died.

“We borrowed the money based on our own balance sheet.  I think we borrowed just over $5.5 billion. But we paid also a lot of interest as we went along, because the project was delayed because of lack of land, also the sand-filling took a long time. Almost five years or so we didn’t do anything,” Dangote said. 

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“We actually started in 2018. We borrowed that much. We have actually, of course, paid interest and some principal, about $2.4 billion. We’ve done very well. We now have only about $2.7 billion left to be paid. So we’ve done very well for a project of that magnitude.”

Furthermore, Dangote said without banks like the African Finance Corporation (AFC), and Afreximbank, it would be difficult to industrialise the African continent, because they are the financial institutions that understand the challenges and the issues affecting the continent.

He said foreign banks are not interested in helping Africa grow, adding that some had made covert attempts to push the company into loan default during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Describing the situation as very scary, Dangote said if he had raised the idea of international project financing with some of them, the banks would have shut it down because they would “ask for my great-grandmother’s certificate of birth”.

‘THOSE BENEFITING FROM IMPORTING PETROL ARE FIGHTING BACK’

On whether he was receiving enough crude oil as feedstock for his refinery from the international oil companies (IOCs), Dangote said those benefitting from the importation of petroleum products would not want the opportunity to slip out of their hands.

“In a system where for 35 years people are used to counting good money, and all of a sudden they see that the days of counting that money have come to an end, you don’t expect them to pray for you. Of course, you expect them to fight back,” he said. 

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“And I think that is the process that we’re now really going through. But the truth is that, yes, the country, the sub-region, and also the continent, sub-Saharan Africa, need this refinery. So, you expect them to fight through non-supply of crude, non-purchase of the product, but I think it’s all temporary. We’ll get there.” 

Dangote emphasised that he was aware that resistance would always exist, but he did not anticipate it being so harsh.

“Well, I knew that there would be a fight. But I didn’t know that the mafia in oil, they are stronger than the mafia in drugs. I can tell you that. Yes, it’s a fact,” he said. 

“The local and foreign mafia tried several times to sabotage the refinery from coming to fruition.” 

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Dangote, who identified as a fighter throughout his life, asserted that the mafias had “tried all sorts” to put an end to him.

“But I’m a person that has been fighting all my life. You know, so I think it’s part of my life to fight,” he said.

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The billionaire said the “fight was still on,” but he believes that he would end up winning with the population and the government “on our side”.

Dangote said Africa must produce what it consumes, adding that there is currently no support coming from the West to the continent.

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