Nigeria/France: Mike Adenuga – ‘This is a strategic relationship’
The founder of Glo and Conoil Mike Adenuga credits several of his successes in business to partnerships with French firms
By Nicholas Norbrook, in Lagos
Nigeria's leading industrialist is pushing ahead with his refinery, which should see mechanical completion by the end of the year. He is attending President Macron's Choose France summit at Versailles on 28 June to build new links to French industry.
Visitors to Dangote’s refinery often struggle with the scale, whether craning heads up to the 112-metre crude column or driving along the 125km of internal roads within the site on the Lekki peninsula, some 80km east of Lagos. “I call it an industrial city,” says Giuseppe Surace, the chief operations officer at the Dangote Oil Refinery. “It is 19 interconnected projects.”
Some 40,000 workers are active daily on site, with 30,000 living within the perimeter fence.
Abdul Samad Rabiu, the CEO and Chairman of BUA Group, has signed several major deals with French companies in recent times, from Axens as technical partner to his new refinery, to a 300tn plasterboard factory deal with French construction giant St Gobain. He intends to list a segment of his business empire on the Lagos Stock Exchange later this year.
Herbert Wigwe, the managing director of Nigeria's Access Bank, has been working on acquiring a French banking licence. It is all part of the plan to become the 'Citibank of Africa', and help plug the gaps in the global financial architecture that have left African companies shut out of financial markets.
France's President Emmanuel Macron spent a formative period in Nigeria and is now pushing French corporates to seek opportunities beyond their comfort zone. The Choose France summit of global business leaders held at Versailles on 28 June will be noticeable for a special Nigeria event, which will bring together leading Nigerian and French industrialists. Nigeria is the only country receiving this treatment at Choose France: a sign of how important France's economic diplomacy in Nigeria is to Emmanuel Macron.
Special economic zones (SEZs) and free-trade zones were the spearhead of Asian industrialisation – allowing countries with major deficits in power, logistics and bureaucracy to pull in investors.
When Covid-19 hit in March 2020, it came at a difficult time for the oil market. A price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia had pushed prices to the floor in February, when suddenly the pandemic drastically reduced consumption, sparking a worldwide rush to find storage for crude.
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