Dangote Group’s bid to build an oil plant in Nigeria’s Lagos area is welcome. Set to be complete by 2018, the oil refinery will process 500,000 barrels of crude a day. While this is good news, Nigeria must address the systemic challenge that has seen the country’s 4 state refineries with a combined capacity of 445,000 barrels a day operate below capacity. It is not forgotten that in spite of the county’s rich supply of educated engineers and geologists, it lost over $475 million to a foreign company in 1998 when one of its refineries got spoilt. The continent’s top producer of crude oil, relies on fuel imports to meet more than 70 percent of its needs.
The narrative is the same other African countries such as Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Libya, and Equatorial Guinea, among others, that possess oil in abundance. These countries lack the capacity to discover the oil; drill for the oil; refine the oil; transport the oil to the refinery; repair existing refineries or transport the refined oil back to Africa for consumption. This trend must be reversed.