Food crisis: Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote opens huge fertilizer plant

The $ 2.5 billion urea and ammonia fertilizer plant was commissioned by Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari in Lagos, where Dangote is also set to open a 650,000-barrel oil refinery a day later this year.

“People are begging us to sell,” he said.

“We are very picky about who we sell this product to. We load a ship to the US, Brazil, Mexico, India … the EU is trying to buy from us,” he added.

The fertilizer plant is located on 500 hectares (1,235 acres) of land on the outskirts of Lagos and has a capacity to produce 3 million tonnes of urea annually, making it the second largest plant in the world, Dangote said.

Workers walk past the newly inaugurated Dangote fertilizer factory in Lagos, Nigeria.
Its launch comes at a critical time. The war in Ukraine has driven up prices and caused global food shortages. Russia and Ukraine are major suppliers of urea, potassium chloride and phosphate, key components in fertilizers. The countries are also major global suppliers of wheat and other cereals.

Urea and ammonia are essential ingredients for farmers to achieve production targets, and access to fertilizers has been significantly reduced, threatening the global food supply chain.

“We are fortunate to have this plant,” Dangote added. “It comes at the right time with the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, as both Ukraine and Russia control significant amounts of agricultural inputs … This can help many African countries. The export market is a seller’s market.”

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The number of people on the brink of starvation has risen to 44 million from 27 million in 2019, the UN World Food Program said this month. Parts of Africa could be starved in as little as three months if Russia’s war in Ukraine drags on, says Wandile Sihlobo, chief economist at the Agricultural Business Chamber of South Africa.

“In the short term, between now and three months, the conflict will affect food supply primarily from a pricing perspective,” Sihlobo told CNN.

Nigeria has been trying for some time to diversify its economy away from oil, and Dangote believes the plant can earn the country $ 5 billion in export revenue each year.

“This is a very big impact. It is very significant for Nigeria’s economy,” Dangote told CNN.

Governor Godwin Emefiele said reducing fertilizer imports was a key pillar of Buhari’s diversification agenda, which took the country from being a net importer of the commodity to self-sufficiency.

“Over the last five years, over 35 million bags of mixed fertilizer have actually been produced in Nigeria. Therefore, our import bill on fertilizer has not only dropped significantly, but we are also witnessing increasing investment in the fertilizer industry, such as. is being ordered today by the Dangote Group, “he said during a speech at the inauguration of the facility.

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“Today, Nigeria is self-sufficient in urea production, and we are also the leading producer of urea on the African continent.

In a speech at the event, Buhari said the facility would help Nigeria stop its dependence on food imports.

“The facility creates huge opportunities in job creation, warehousing, transportation and logistics. This will create significant wealth, reduce poverty and help secure the future of our nation.”

Dangote Group is the second largest employer in Nigeria after federal government.

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