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Nigeria: Aliko Dangote, the $19bn bet, and the battle against the commodity traders

By Nicholas Norbrook
Posted on Monday, 22 November 2021 12:21

Aliko Dangote
Aliko Dangote, speaking at the Africa CEO Forum in 2016 © ACF

With an exclusive visit to his industrial hub and an interview with Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote, The Africa Report looks at the continent’s most colossal industrial project and its chances for success

Someone on the other end of the phone line is taking a hell of a beating. The sound of angry demands barked in Italian-inflected English breaks through the thin walls of the pre-fabricated office. A stern message is being delivered. The voice on this end of the phone belongs to Giuseppe Surace, chief operating officer on the biggest and costliest project in Africa.

Welcome to Aliko Dangote’s management village. It is the nerve centre for the world’s biggest single-train oil refinery, which is being built next to the world’s biggest ammonia plant. It is rising out of 2,635ha of marshland, some 40km east of Lagos. Surace is credited with turning around the project over the past three years.

Its cost escalation can be measured in superlatives, too. That may account for the shouting next door.