Dangote Refinery, Industrialization and Lessons Africans Must Learn
By Jerome-Mario Chijioke Utomi
On Monday, May 22, 2023, policymakers and captains of industries from across the world converged on the Lekki axis of Lagos State for the commissioning of the world’s largest single-train 650,000 barrels-per-day petroleum refinery built by Dangote Group. Going by commentaries, the refinery, when it becomes fully operational, will give a boost to efforts by the federal government to make Nigeria self-sufficient in local refining of crude oil and save the scarce foreign exchange used in the importation of petroleum products.
Again, aside from the expert reports that the refinery can meet 100 per cent of the country’s requirement of all refined products: gasoline, 53 million litres per day; diesel, 34 million litres per day; kerosene, 10 million litres per day, and aviation jet, 2 million litres per day, with a surplus of each of these products for export, also heartening is the awareness that the refinery is ‘laced’ with the 435 MW power plant that can also meet the total power requirement of Ibadan DisCo of 860,316 MWh, covering five states, including Oyo, Ogun, Osun, Kwara, and Ekiti.
While this huge feat by Aliko Dangote and his group is being celebrated, the development, on the other hand, elicits two separate but related reactions.
Foremost, it calls on Africans that it is time to recover their moral and strategic ‘health’ to stand again for freedom, demand accountability from their leaders for poor decisions, missed judgment, lack of planning, lack of preparation and wilful denial of the obvious truth about serious and imminent threats that are facing Africans. Dangote’s current milestone is a testament that the time is ripe for Africans to reject the false and horrendous reasons being offered to them by their leaders as an explanation for why the continent is not yet industrialized or developed.
Dangote is not a public office holder on the continent but his latest feat demonstrates a man with an understanding that considering the slow-growing economy but scary unemployment levels in the continent, the only way to survive was to industrialize-that Africa as a continent will continue to find itself faced with difficulty accelerating the economic life cycle of its people until their leaders contemplate industrialization, or productive collaboration with private organizations that have surplus capital to create employment.
Take as another illustration, I noted in one of my previous interventions that one of the popular demands during the fuel subsidy removal protest in January 2012, under President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s administration in Nigeria, was that the federal government should take measures to strengthen corporate governance in the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) as well as in the oil and gas sector as a whole. This is because of the belief that weak structures made it possible for endemic corruption in the management of both the downstream and upstream sectors of the oil and gas industry.
On his part, President Muhammadu in 2015 promised Nigerians a fair deal. But for eight years, the three government-owned refineries in the country have not been able to function at full capacity as promised by the present administration for a myriad of reasons that revolve around corruption.
Today, if there is anything that Nigerians wish that the FG should accomplish quickly, it is getting the refineries to function optimally as well as make the NNPC more accountable to the people. What happened under President Jonathan has become child’s play when compared with the present happenings in Nigeria’s oil/gas and electricity sectors.
Broadly speaking, it is not by any standard a good commentary that after over 60 years of independence, African countries continually look up to other continents for aid. This covertly tells a story of a continent lacking in the capacity to take responsibility for its actions and initiatives for values.
As an illustration, the Chinese development aid to Africa, going by reports, totalled 47% of its total foreign assistance in 2009 alone, and from 2000 to 2012, it funded 1,666 official assistance projects in 51 African countries.
Also, rings of apprehension are the awareness that Africa is the most populated in the world with over 1.2 billion people, but sadly represents only 1.4% of the world manufacturing value added in the first quarter of 2020. This is further exacerbated by the fact that out of over 51 countries in Africa as a continent, only South Africa qualified as a member of BRICS, an acronym coined for an association of five major emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
This piece is not alone on the economic and industrial backwardness of Africa as a continent. A book entitled: Technology and Wealth of Nations, in like manner, chronicled the slanted and unsustainable effort different African governments made in the past to bring their nations out of the technological woods, as well as outlined the way forward.
Separate from thoughtfully and masterfully examining the inspirable relationship between technological development and the economic progress of nations, the book deftly argues with facts that the point of the sail of all economies is the introduction of the manufacturing sector or the industrial economy. The author establishes that Africa’s prolonged economic plight is centred on the two fundamental challenges of a manufacturing economy.
It traces Africa’s economic backwardness to its roots – a key problem that has kept our policymakers handicapped and our economies crippled. With documented facts on the crippling institutionalized policies and organized sequences of stagnating events of the colonial masters, the author asks: “Why is it that Europe, which hosted the industrial revolutions in the 17th and 18th centuries, did not permit technological education in Africa in about 50 years of colonization, and prefers to send aids afterwards?”
Of course, the above question, in my view, may not be lacking in merit considering the fact that Africa presently is dotted with projects built with aid from Europe, the United States of America (USA) and lately, China.
Whatever the true situation may be, I believe and still believe that there exists something troubling technologically that characterizes Africa more as a dark continent.
On the way out of the continent’s technological debacle and the current wealth disparity among nations (industrial economies), experts believe that the current wealth disparity among nations (industrial economies) represented by highly industrialized Europe, North America and Japan on the one hand and most developing (non-industrial economies) countries, in particular, those in sub-Saharan Africa, on order is primarily the difference in the technical capability and capacity to produce and manufacture modern technologies and to use the technologies to produce and manufacture globally competitive industrial goods and to sustain the commanding tasks of science and technology in the economy.
The disparity, it added, has since considerably widened and will continue to widen as long as the developing countries depend almost totally on industrial nations for the technologies and industrial inputs they need to sustain their economies.
Consequently, the only way to bridge the wealth gap is for the developing countries of the world to build their domestic endogenous capabilities and capacities to produce modern technologies and competitive industrial goods in their own economies, he concluded.
Catalysing the process will again necessitate African leaders borrowing bodies from Asian tigers in order to raise Africa’s industrial soul.
Above all, this piece holds the opinion that African leaders must, at the present moment of our existence, recognize clearly that; public order, personal and national security, economic and social programmes, and prosperity are not the natural order of things but depends on the ceaseless efforts and attentions from an honest and effective government that the people elect. They must collectively recognize also that it takes a prolonged effort to administer a country well and change the backward habits of the people.
Utomi is the Program Coordinator (Media and Policy) at Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos. He can be reached via;firstname.lastname@example.org or 08032725374
Hullabaloo of Nigeria’s Democratic Transitions
By Prince Charles Dickson PhD
By 1983, the army had struck and aborted the second republic, but here we are, the 10th Assembly will soon resume, and it’s been 24 years of a hullabaloo democracy; many are not happy, but we are making some form of progress, there’s been no martial music.
Despite the heated controversies in Lagos and other places, the death toll as a result of gun-throttling ballot snatchers reduced, and the magic figures of the Kardashian states also have reduced. However, we still have a marathon on our hands, but sadly we are building on some shenanigan principles that don’t spell well for us.
I recall in our recent democratic journey, a governor that had won a second term, after being sworn in, blamed his predecessor for huge debts and unpaid salaries…and more. Someone had to tap him, reminding him that he was the predecessor.
In this dispensation, another governor simply refused to sit on the seat of his predecessor, and others would embark on a sacking galore, after all, only weeks to the end of the last man on the helm, there were loads of hiring, firing is then in order. I know that it is a lie that the Zamfara state governor declared N9 trillion in assets, but not to worry, many would declare outrageous sums (forgetting that we know their real worth), while others would dance the musical chairs, refusing to declare.
The block and freeze accounts group would be at it, accounts that would be elapsed after the initial gra-gra, where there are democracies, in many parts the governor would make statements banning payments of one levy, tax or union dues, but trust me, these payments would come back.
Most of the new governors have dissolved state councils, boards and parastatals. Some governors will demolish, either immediately or later, the new kids on the block must chop, new Heads of Service, and all those new commissioners etc.
This new administration has taken off with subsidy removal. A most contentious issue, one that every energy moron and fuel expert has an opinion on.
What exactly is deregulation? How exactly does this subsidy work? I have talked to government officials, petroleum marketers, a few ‘big boys’ in NNPC, and a couple of eggheads. The truth is that they do not know, or better still, they know but cannot explain what these terms mean.
All the grammar boils down to an inability of a system to solve a problem because a strong group of persons are benefiting from that problem. It also is an indictment reflective of the faulty planning by those in charge, that’s if they plan at all.
The government tells us that it cannot influence the price of the product since deregulation is the in-thing, but in common sense, no one has been able to tell us how fellow oil-producing nations have successfully dealt with their petroleum needs.
A friend suggested why don’t we go to Angola, Venezuela, or Brazil and just steal their blueprint? It’s working for them, let’s just stop these subsidies and deregulation grammar and deceit of subsidies and duplicate their success, localize it for the collective good of Nigerians, but of course, the term ‘collective good’ is an alien term to us. Insecurity won’t allow our newly old train systems to work, blue and green rails at cutthroat costs have not reduced the cost of transportation or eased people’s burden, our waterways are wasting, you are riding bicycles, car drivers would knock you down.
It is a sad picture of a society that has lost balance; the ruling class needs to be taught a bitter lesson; they need to be made to bleed, Nigeria’s live at less than a dollar a day while a few flaunt a nation’s collective wealth, so if the current administration is scraping subsidies, it should be supported, but it can’t get that wholesale support because of trust deficit.
No number of essays or commentaries can explain the impact of fuel, cooking oil and diesel on the economy; it’s like explaining the impact of constant electricity on national life. These are terms those in power do not seem to grasp; the reasons are way simple, too…one, they have big power-generating plants in their homes and offices. Two, some of them cannot really recall when last they were in a fuel queue and with millions of naira in remuneration and salaries, what do they care?
The NLC died a long time ago courtesy of an Obasanjo-inspired poisoning, aided by the greed of those put at the helm of its activities, its only panacea being strike and strikes.
Over two dozen fuel price increases since 1978, five times it was reduced minimally but hiked back almost immediately. From N8.45 in 1978 to N65 in 2009, representing an increase of almost 60,000%, the trend has simply continued. In 1978 when the first increase was announced, one of the reasons given was that a majority of petroleum users were using it for pleasure, and there was a need to bring discipline into society. Strange thinking, another reason was that N95 million was being spent a year on subsidies.
As of this year, we are talking in trillions; where is this money coming from, how does this subsidy thing work, how can you deregulate when your refineries are not working? How do you pay subsidy cash and still do crude oil swaps? Who can really explain the fraud called Direct Sales, Direct Purchase DSDP? I have not touched all the loops like bridging costs, demurrage, and forex fluctuations that marketers play with, minus selling at international prices to neighbouring countries. Even the commissioned Dangote refinery has not started working and is not starting anytime soon. You will see that wahala dey!
The top echelon of society cannot explain to Nigerians exactly the reason why we cannot buy fuel at an affordable price for three years in a stretch without scarcity. Not every Nigerian is a novice to the political, economic or social implications of oil pricing. However, the ordinary Nigerian suffers this failure and complacency of leadership.
Subsidies and deregulation mean the price will ultimately fall, and money will be channelled to other areas of the economy; in local parlance…’our leaders like to mumu us’. When the broadcast industry deregulated, we saw the instant benefits, the same applies to telecoms (although we pay some of the highest tariffs in the world); we saw and are still seeing the benefits. But once you hear these terms in the petroleum sector, it’s like it stands for the disappearance of the commodity, and when it reappears, its price increases.
Who are those responsible for the billions and trillions that disappear in subsidies, who are the few that want to punish the majority? All the best explanations of the government, until it is seen to be done, are more of hullabaloo.
Why is it that this policy to a large population of Nigerians is simply a tightening of the screw of poverty, no massive improvement of our colonial rail system, no free education or healthcare, no social security, or unemployment benefits?
Legislators neither here nor there, governors supporting with both sides of their mouth at variance, everyone on top supports, and every person underneath suffers it; in all the noise, the product disappears. Transportation fare increases, food prices skyrocket…a nation that has a disconnect between the ruled and its rulers.
The subsidy has become part of our transitions; if this government gets it right and can pull this off with a humane face, it will get a lot of things right, but the citizens need to play their part, the Yorubas say Ẹni tó tan ara-a rẹ̀ lòrìṣà òkè ńtàn: àpọń tí ò láya nílé, tó ní kí òrìṣà ó bùn un lọ́mọ. This means it is the person who deceives himself that the gods above deceive: a bachelor who has no wife at home but implores the gods to grant him, children. (It is self-deceit to expect the gods to do everything for one when one has not lifted a finger on one’s behalf). I can only say—May Nigeria win!
Mitigating Unemployment and Labour Migration in Nigeria
Nigeria has seen a sharp increase in unemployment over time, with a current estimate of 33%. All age categories in Nigeria are affected by a serious unemployment problem, with young people bearing a disproportionately high share of the burden. When people don’t have work, it makes life difficult for them and their households. Note that this causes labour migration, as people leave the country in quest of better opportunities and income sources abroad. Unemployment is one of the key reasons why its citizens migrate their labour to other countries.
Nigeria’s economy has struggled to produce enough jobs to accommodate this expanding workforce due to the country’s high population growth rate, which causes a large number of job seekers to enter the labour market each year. SMEs could be essential in reversing this trend and creating jobs, but they face challenges such as restricted access to capital, inadequate business support services, and a challenging business climate. Additionally, highly qualified individuals leave Nigeria in quest of better opportunities abroad, depleting the country’s talent pool and widening the skills gap in critical industries.
It is important to emphasize that because of the interdependence of these factors, a multidimensional and all-encompassing approach is required to address labour migration and unemployment. To mitigate unemployment and labour migration in Nigeria, a variety of actions can be taken. A few of these include:
➢ Job Creation and Economic Diversification: Nigeria is extremely vulnerable to variations in the price of oil because of its dependency on fuel. Through the promotion of companies and sectors other than oil, economic diversification can boost job chances and reduce dependency on a single industry. In Nigeria, it is crucial to increase the variety of employment options. The establishment and growth of various businesses and sectors can also encourage the emergence of new occupations and positions. There is a higher chance of employment for people when there are more businesses.
➢ Provision of Adequate Infrastructure: Infrastructure improvements have the potential to boost economic growth and draw in industries that can employ workers. For businesses to invest in and create jobs, they need a strong infrastructure that includes a dependable power supply, efficient transportation systems, and digital connections.
➢ Support for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs): Encouragement of entrepreneurship and assistance for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can promote innovation, generate job opportunities, and boost economic growth. Agriculture is a sector with a lot of SMEs. It has a great deal of potential to boost food security, minimize rural-urban migration, and create jobs. By giving farmers access to funding, cutting-edge farming techniques, and market connections, production can be increased and jobs created throughout the value chain of agriculture. Programs for training, mentoring, and access to financing and business development services also support these businesses.
➢ Changes in Business Policy: The development of many successful firms, especially SMEs, has been hampered by culpable policies and deregulation laws. Business owners, producers, and other market participants take advantage of policy gaps to perform arbitrary functions. Therefore, reviewing and updating corporate policies, regulatory frameworks, and labour laws can help to foster a climate that encourages investment and job growth. In addition, employment prospects may increase as a result of streamlining administrative procedures, lowering corruption, and guaranteeing fair competition for all enterprises.
Although it is a difficult problem to solve, mitigating unemployment and labour migration is crucial for Nigeria’s economic progress. Another strategy for this development is to strengthen the institutions of the labour market, lower company costs by streamlining regulations and lowering taxes, improve the business environment, and improve education, safety, job accountability, and security. By doing this, employment opportunities will be generated, and the general public’s professional development will be encouraged. Lastly, the government’s main priorities for sustainable solutions should address societal issues, attract investment, enhancing skill development and business climate.
Emmanuel Otori has over 10 years of experience working with 100 start-ups and SMEs across Nigeria. He has worked on the Growth and Employment (GEM) Project of the World Bank, GiZ, and Consulted for businesses at the Abuja Enterprise Agency, Novustack, Splitspot and NITDA. He is the Chief Executive Officer at Abuja Data School.
Improving Business Growth With Data Analytics: Why it’s a Priority
By Kehinde Ogundare
Running a business in Nigeria can be an arduous task. Business owners face fierce competition as they strive to secure market share, acquire new customers, and enhance their productivity and profitability.
The business environment is getting more competitive. According to World Bank data, 97,988 new businesses were registered in Nigeria in 2020 (the last year for which numbers are available). The country’s rapidly accelerating tech sector provides further evidence of that increased competitiveness.
A report from McKinsey found that the number of startups in Nigeria and other African companies grew threefold between 2020 and 2021.
The growth of a business, whether it offers a product or service, is closely linked to its customer base. In order to remain competitive and retain these customers, it is crucial to use data-driven insights to inform business decisions and facilitate a successful customer experience.
Understanding data analytics
In the simplest terms, data analytics is about making sense of all the data that a business gathers and using it to help the business improve its decision-making or to gain insights into a particular subject or problem.
It enables entrepreneurs to make profitable decisions, drive innovation, anticipate market trends, and manage budgets. However, a report by KPMG that analyzed the usage of data and analytics in Nigeria’s business environment reveals that 56% of organizations in Nigeria base their decision-making on intuition rather than data. This shows that businesses are yet to grasp the true potential that data can bring to decision-making.
Another report highlights that, on average, organizations plan to spend at least N50 million annually to develop data and analytics capabilities, indicating the potential for businesses seeking to integrate these practices. However, just 16% of organizations have a defined role for their Chief Data Officer, and many merge data analytics responsibilities with the Chief Financial Officer (CFO), highlighting a talent gap.
Finding the right solution
A strong BI platform can gather data from across different software used by different departments, such as sales, marketing, finance, and inventory, to help the user make sense of the data through simple-to-understand charts, graphs, and other visual tools. This, in turn, facilitates strategic decision-making.
Zoho, for example, provides a robust BI solution that comes with self-service data preparation and augmented analytics. It has strong AI/ML capabilities, enabling users to use natural language commands such as “show me our revenue growth last quarter” to get charts showing just that. Zoho Analytics can also be embedded in any third-party software, so users do not have to log into a new app just to view reports.
In today’s world, where there is high competition for customer attention among businesses along with organizational operations driven by technology, data analytics enables a business to optimize performance and make data-driven decisions. Having real-time insights into how their business is performing and the current market trends can help business owners adapt to the fast-changing landscape and stay relevant.
Kehinde Ogundare is the Country Manager for Zoho Nigeria
Latest News on Business Post
- CSCS Plans Payment of N1.37 Dividend to Shareholders June 4, 2023
- SERAP Demands Missing $2.1bn, N3.1trn Subsidy Payments Probe June 4, 2023
- Cryptocurrency Trading Strategies: Tips for Maximizing Profits June 4, 2023
- HealthXP Unveils App to Revolutionise Healthcare Delivery in Africa June 4, 2023
- Unity Bank Grows Gross Earnings to N57bn in 2022 as Customer Deposits Rise June 4, 2023
- Hullabaloo of Nigeria’s Democratic Transitions June 4, 2023
- Governor Akeredolu Not Dead–Ondo Commissioner June 3, 2023
- Three Securities Shore Up NASD Market Capitalisation by N14.99bn June 3, 2023
- Naira Falls at P2P, Gains at Black Market, Stable at Official Market June 3, 2023
- Oil Closes 2% Higher Ahead Crucial OPEC+ Meeting June 3, 2023