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We’ve repaid $2.4bn of $5.5bn refinery loan – Dangote

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Dangote Refinery still at pre commissioning stage, Nigeria can't rely on it – NMDPRA

President of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, has revealed that the group has paid off $2.4bn of the $5.5bn loan for its $19bn Lagos-based refinery.

Dangote, who was speaking at the Afreximbank Annual Meetings in Nassau, The Bahamas, on Wednesday, also alleged that powerful oil cartels tried to undermine his refinery project.

Africa’s richest man said his 650,000-barrel-per-day refinery will act as Nigeria’s strategic reserve, as reported by This Day Newspaper.

“We borrowed the money based on our own balance sheet. I think we borrowed just over $5.5bn. 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.

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

Dangote thanked Afreximbank and Access Bank for their support, acknowledging that many had doubted the project’s success.

He stated that the vision would have failed without their backing.

Dangote further remarked that foreign banks showed little interest in supporting Africa’s development.

The billionaire acknowledged that he anticipated resistance, but admitted that he underestimated the ferocity of the opposition, stating that the pushback was far more intense than he had expected.

He stated that both local and international interests, which he likened to a “mafia”, made repeated attempts to thwart the refinery’s completion.

“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 stated.

Dangote, who described himself as a fighter, said they “tried all sorts” to stop 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.

He added, “As a matter of fact during the COVID period, some of the international banks really were looking forward to making sure that they push us into default of our loans so that the project will just be dead. And that didn’t happen with the help of banks like Afreximbank.”

Dangote also announced his plans to venture into the steel industry, stating that his goal is to use only Nigerian-produced steel, ensuring self-sufficiency and reducing reliance on imports.

The refinery recently shifted its plan to release petrol into the market from June to July 10-15, citing minor challenges for the delay.

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