economy

Dangote Proposes Selling $20 Billion Worth of His Refinery to NNPC in Face of Ongoing Challenges

Last Friday, the director of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Regulatory Authority told reporters that billionaire and oil magnate Aliko Dangote has requested the authorities suspend diesel and aviation fuel imports. According to the director, this action appears to be an attempt to establish a monopoly on the country’s market. Aliko Dangote, the richest man in Africa, expressed his readiness to sell his multibillion-dollar oil refinery to the state-owned energy company, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC). “We have been facing a fuel crisis since the 70s. This refinery can help in resolving the problem, but it does appear some people are uncomfortable that I am in the picture. So I am ready to let go, let the NNPC buy me out, run the refinery,” he said in an interview with a local Premium Times outlet. Dangote also reminded that he is 67 years old and stated that he needs “very little” to sustain himself for the rest of his life and cannot take the refinery or any other assets with him after his death. He emphasized that everything he does is in the interest of his country, according to the report. His comments came in response to a recent statement by Farouk Ahmed, CEO of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, who claimed that petroleum products from the Dangote refinery were of inferior quality and contained high sulfur levels. Ahmed also cautioned against making Dangote Refinery a monopoly, particularly for automotive gas oil and dual-purpose kerosene. Dangote has rejected Ahmed’s allegations regarding the quality of his products and called for an independent test to verify their standards. Moreover, the entrepreneur revealed his decision to cease his investment in Nigeria’s steel industry to prevent any accusations of monopolistic practices, the report said. The Dangote refinery, which was launched in January with a cost of $20 billion, has the potential to become the largest facility in both Africa and Europe if it achieves its maximum production capability of 650,000 barrels per day. Moreover, it could end $17 billion in annual gasoline imports from Europe to Africa, the media reported.

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Videos: Protesters in Kenya Break Into Parliament in Nairobi, Building Reportedly on Fire

Protests against the introduction of additional taxes began on June 18 and have spread across the entire Kenya. The new policy, according to protestors, will hurt the economy and raise living expenses for Kenyans, who already find it difficult in order to survive. Protesters in Kenya have broken into the parliament building in Nairobi, and a fire has broken out in part of the building, Citizen TV reported on Tuesday. The bill was passed by the House shortly before the incursion to the parliament building. At least eight people were killed during protests in Kenya’s Nairobi on Tuesday, the KTN News broadcaster reported further. The Western media later reported at least 10 dead as a result of the Tuesday protests. Another 50 people were injured in the protests, the Western media reported, citing doctors. The Kenyan Red Cross said that its ambulances have been attacked by protesters and its employees have been injured. “Our vehicles have been attacked. Staff and volunteers injured. We have no contact or role in transporting persons other than the injured. The rumours must stop. We can’t provide life-saving interventions without access and safety for our staff and volunteers. It is crucial that we are granted access to continue our humanitarian efforts without hindrance. It is quite unfair that we are being accused of whisking members of parliament while our staff and volunteers put their lives in danger to provide critical medical care to those in need,” the Kenyan Red Cross said on X. Unconfirmed reports from the area say that the parliament building was cordoned off by armed men. A new wave of protests in Kenya over the government’s plans to raise taxes on a number of goods and services began in mid-June, which prompted police to use tear gas to disperse demonstrators. Later, the media reported that amendments had been made to the draft budget, abolishing the introduction of a 16% value-added tax on the purchase of bread, transportation of sugar, use of mobile and financial services, transactions in foreign currency, as well as the imposition of a 2.5% tax on motor vehicles and excise duty on vegetable oil. Kenyan President William Ruto said the government was ready to engage in dialogue with the protesters. Nevertheless, protests continued, with Citizen Digital reporting two deaths and at least 200 injuries during the protests. The police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the protesters. According to media, the parliament is due to adopt the final version of the draft budget on June 30. For the past week, protesters have been picketing in opposition to the contentious bill, which was passed by the house on Tuesday. They contend that if it is enacted, it will impose additional burdens on an already overburdened populace.

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Multinationals Accused of Undermining Nigeria’s Dangote Refinery Operations

In mid-May, Aliko Dangote, Chairman of the Dangote Group asserted at the Africa CEO Forum 2024 in Rwanda, that his refinery has the capacity to fulfill the petrol and diesel demands of West Africa and Central Africa. It also meets the aviation fuel demand of the whole continent. Nigeria’s Dangote oil refinery could significantly improve its operational efficiency by using local crude supplies instead of the imported US crude oil, Devakumar Edwin, the vice president for oil and gas at Dangote Industries Limited, said on Sunday. Devakumar Edwin accused international oil companies active in Nigeria of hindering the refinery’s local crude procurement. The global corporations inflate the purchase price, leading Dangote to import from the US to cut costs, he said, adding that this tactic aims to keep Nigeria reliant on foreign petroleum products, benefitting host countries over Nigeria. “It appears that the objective of the [international oil companies] is to ensure that Nigeria remains a country, which exports crude oil and imports refined petroleum products,” he told the local media. “They are keen on exporting the raw materials to their home countries, creating employment and wealth for their countries, adding to their Gross Domestic Product, and dumping the expensive refined products into Nigeria, thus making us to be dependent on imported products.” The vice president of Dangote reiterated that the multinational corporations were using the same tactic they had been using for every commodity, forcing Sub-Saharan Africa and Nigeria to deal with unemployment and poverty while enriching themselves at Nigeria’s expense. Edwin urged the Nigerian Upstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority in particular to take tougher action to safeguard national interests. According to the vice president, the governing body is aimlessly issuing import licenses to oil traders. “Recently, the government of Ghana, through legislation, has banned the importation of highly contaminated diesel and PMS (petrol) into their county,” he added. “It is regrettable that in Nigeria, import licences are granted, despite knowing that we have the capacity to produce nearly double the amount of products needed in Nigeria and even export the surplus.” Dangote refinery, which launched in January 2024 with a capacity of 650,000 barrels per day, aims to be a leading supplier of petroleum products in Africa, starting domestic gasoline deliveries in July.

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BRICS Supports Multilateralism, ‘Humanity and Its Progress,’ South Africa’s Foreign Minister States

Exclusive Naledi Pandor, the Foreign Minister of South Africa, participated in the BRICS foreign ministers’ conference in Russia’s Nizhny Novgorod that was held on Monday and Tuesday. During the meeting, she engaged in discussions with her counterparts from the BRICS member nations on various topics. BRICS supports multilateralism as well as “humanity and its progress,” South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Naledi Pandor, told Sputnik Africa in an interview on Monday. “As BRICS, we fully support multilateralism. […] We don’t believe that there’s some country in the world that is so great that it must tell all of us what we should do. No, we don’t accept that,” she said. The recent expansion of the bloc is one of the steps to promote multipolarity, and both South Africa and Russia apply this principle in practice. “I’m so happy that we [South Africa] are the ones who introduced the expansion, and Russia is the one who is implementing it practically. So South Africa and Russia are working in a conjoined manner,” she said. Pandor noted that the enlargement was “the second most important big step” that the bloc made after the creation of the New Development Bank. The diplomat also urged reforming the UN so that it could ensure greater security and peace across the globe, since BRICS wants to see an equitable world where there is no inclination to start or escalate wars. “We believe the premier multilateral body is the United Nations. We don’t want to create an alternative to it, but we believe the United Nations must be reformed, it must pay greater attention to development, and it must have the ability to enhance peace and security,” the minister pondered. A striking example that demonstrates the need for changes in the UN is the case of South Africa against Israel’s genocidal actions in Gaza at the International Court of Justice. This legal battle “exposed the inadequacy” of the UN in its “ability to enforce peace and security” and protect civilians. According to Pandor, the reason Pretoria went to court “very early on” after Israel began its military operation in the enclave was to try to prevent genocide. She expressed hope that all nations around the globe will support the case because it concerns humanity and human rights, adding that “we have enough world power to be able to stop it.” Another crucial issue on the BRICS agenda is payments in national currencies. One of the biggest steps on the path to developing an alternative international payment system was the establishment of the BRICS Bank, according to Pandor. She explained that a new system is needed as the current one is rigged against the members of the bloc. “This is a very big agenda item for us as BRICS countries because we believe the current international payment system is skewed against us because it’s so dependent on one currency in the world that when that currency is not available or when we are sanctioned because of it, we do not have access to international trade opportunities,” the South African top diplomat said. Pandor noted that the bloc can learn from the Russia-India example: the two countries already trade in local currencies. However, she warned that since the economies of each BRICS member are different in size and other characteristics, it is important to conduct careful research when creating a common financial framework for the bloc. “So everything must be approached with proper research and very, very well articulated practices which strengthen our economies and not weaken them. […] Every decision you take must be well-informed. It must achieve the results that you want. And it must give us that independence that we desire as the BRICS countries,” the minister explained. Such research is already underway, which Pandor is “very excited” about. BRICS finance ministers and central bank governors are working on the issue and will report at the BRICS summit in Russia’s Kazan in October on what can be done. During the interview, Sputnik Africa also raised the topic of Russia-South Africa relations development in the light of recent elections in the rainbow nation. Pandor stated that the two countries are “very, very good friends” and this will remain after the elections, reminding that Russia and South Africa work closely together in many areas, including water sciences, pharmaceuticals, medical sciences, and space exploration. “Russian businesses have also invested in South Africa, in the fuel sector, in energy, in minerals, and play a very critical role in helping to create jobs for South Africans and to grow our economy. So, we have a very positive relationship, and we’re happy about that,” the minister said. Speaking of elections, she said the ruling African National Congress (ANC) was aware that “a lot of money” had been used to finance some of the country’s new political parties “in an effort to disrupt the ANC and its policy.” “But we came out as the largest party. And so we will influence the future,” Pandor noted. She assured, however, that bilateral relations won’t change, even though the ANC didn’t get the majority during the voting, and that they were moving forward to form a coalition. “We’re not negotiating as a junior partner, but we’re also not being arrogant in the negotiations. But we’re very clear on our foreign policy. You can’t have a South Africa that would be negative or hostile about Russia. Russia played a very important role in the freedom struggle, supporting the liberation movements. There’s no way that with a government led by the ANC that we would have some negative attitude in foreign policy toward Russia,” Pandor stated, adding that the party hopes for Cyril Ramaphosa’s re-election as president. Moreover, Pandor commented on the Ukrainian conflict and strive for peace. The top diplomat noted that her country is trying to “create conditions” for both parties – Russia and Ukraine – to engage in direct talks, adding that all the meetings with Ukraine on the issue have been solely focused on the Ukraine peace plan which has been “consistently” pointed out by South Africa as “not good enough”.

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Russia Helps Zimbabwe Become Self-Sufficient, President Mnangagwa States

Exclusive From June 5 to 8, the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) was held in St. Petersburg, which was attended by Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa. He took part in the SPIEF plenary session and also held negotiations with the Russian leader. Sputnik Africa had the honor of interviewing Mnangagwa on the sidelines of the forum. Russia assists Zimbabwe in achieving self-sufficiency, the president of the African country, Emmerson Mnangagwa, told Sputnik Africa in an exclusive interview conducted on the sidelines of the SPIEF 2024. The countries actively interact in the field of science and technology. “[…] We focus on cooperation in science and technology. We are sending dozens and dozens, perhaps hundreds and hundreds of students to study science and technology in the Russian Federation. Because we feel that every developed country is on the basis of embracing science and technology,” Zimbabwe’s president said. Moreover, one of the main areas of cooperation between the countries is agriculture. “They [Russia] are supporting us with fertilizer so that we become self-sufficient. Zimbabwe has been self-sufficient in food security. But the biggest constraint we have is access to the appropriate fertilizer for our region. And that we can get from the Russian Federation,” he said. In 2023, Russia donated 11,000 tonnes of potash fertilizers to Zimbabwe, which helped ensure the country’s food security. In 2024, 25,000 tonnes of Russian wheat were supplied free of charge as part of the implementation of decisions taken following the results of the second Russia-Africa Summit. At the same time, the Uralchem Group of companies donated 23,000 tonnes of mineral fertilizers. At the SPIEF, Mnangagwa thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin for the transfer of fertilizers to Harare. “Let me on behalf of my country, my people, and myself personally express my deepest gratitude for your continued support for our sanctioned country,” he said. Speaking of sanctions, the African president noted that they have failed to “stifle” the Zimbabwean economy; on the contrary, they have even helped it develop as the country has shifted its focus on internal problems to modernize the economy. “We are doing better in the entire region in our economic growth year by year because of sanctions. So we are also anxious that the Americans should not remove their sanctions so that we continue focusing and doing better. Those countries without sanctions in our region are not doing as good as we are doing,” he pointed out. Discussing the economy, Mnangagwa noted that his country is “on the correct path” toward making Zimbabwe an industrial hub. “Well, it is us who must focus on what we need to industrialize our country. Zimbabwe is now at the threshold to do that because we have a thriving mining industry that needs access to global capital as well as global skills. And that is happening. Then also, Zimbabwe has a highly qualified, highly educated workforce, which is complementary to the question of workforce in modern countries,” he explained. Economic progress has helped Zimbabwe meet the conditions for joining BRICS. “I’ve discussed this with my dear brother, president Putin, that I think we are now ready to join because we now have a solid currency in Zimbabwe. And our economy is now based on solid fundamentals of economics. […] So we now know that we fulfil the requirements to qualify to join the BRICS,” Mnangagwa said. Zimbabwe have been subject to currency fluctuations, and therefore it was decided to introduce a currency that would be backed by the country’s gold reserves. “We are suffering from the fluctuations of an incurred currency. So one time, you know, the inflation could fly in our face. […] We decided that we need a currency, a solid currency based on our gold reserves. […] And that’s what we have done. So our currency is now called ZIG, which is Zimbabwe Gold,” the head of state added. Aside from that, Zimbabwe’s leader revealed to Sputnik Africa that the upcoming summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) will show whether the country is ready to host the Russia-Africa Summit. “We ourselves designated to hold a SADC summit, this is about 16 countries in our region, in August this year. That will tell us whether we are now grown up enough to host a conference of that nature,” Mnangagwa said. The president noted that if the country sees that it is not yet ready to host the summit, it would aim to achieve the required level of infrastructure development over the next few years. Perhaps, if the Russia-Africa summit is held in Zimbabwe, the nation will use the new city that it is building in preparation for the SADC summit. “So we are in a difficult time right now, we hardly sleep. We are creating a new city… Of course, we are not such cool guys as those who gathered here [at the SPIEF]. We do not have infrastructure that was built a long time ago. [But] we are growing. I like what we can achieve the infrastructure needed to hold a regional conference,” Mnangagwa said. After the SADC summit, the country will have infrastructure that can be used for holding major events. In particular, Mnangagwa proposed holding a Russia-Zimbabwe summit and invited Putin to the country. Last but not least, talking about Russia, the African leader pointed out that Russia adheres to the principle of brotherhood, not a “horse and rider” relationship. “The difference I see is that the Russian approach is of comradeship, brotherhood, not horse and rider. So this is why we favor an approach of friendship, of equality, of brotherhood rather than of principle and the student. The horse rider is more cruel, but that of teacher and student,” Mnangagwa concluded, wishing success to Sputnik news agency.

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