Nigeria and Morocco in New $1.3b Fertilizer Plant Deal

President Muhammadu Buhari announced on Thursday in Abuja that a new $1.3 billion basic chemicals network in Nigeria will be ready for commissioning in the coming months.

President Buhari said the new plant would be designed in collaboration with the Kingdom of Morocco during an audience with the Fertilizer Producers and Suppliers Association of Nigeria (FEPSAN).

“His Majesty, the King of Morocco and I, have agreed to extend the current Phosphate supply agreement between the Kingdom of Morocco and Nigeria.

“We both believe that to consolidate and expand on the successes recorded thus far, we must secure raw material supplies to our blenders.

“Furthermore, to improve the balance of trade between Nigeria and Morocco, the two countries have signed an agreement to develop a $1.3 billion Basic Chemicals Platform in Nigeria that will produce Ammonia, Phosphoric Acid, Sulphuric Acid and various Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium (NPK) and Diammonium Phosphate (DAP) fertilisers using Nigeria’s gas reserves,” he said.

When completed, the new plant will complement existing Dangote and Indorama Chemicals facilities that manufacture urea, ammonia, and other industrial raw materials, according to the President.

“When we combine these projects with the existing 44 blending plants, Nigeria will indeed become a regional and global fertiliser power house,” he said.

President Buhari praised the FEPSAN’s achievements over the past five years, noting that amid the country’s economic downturns, investments in the fertilizer and agricultural inputs sector grew.

“Though many investors chose to take their monies out of Nigeria, you continued to invest. Today, we are seeing the fruits of your smart, long term and patriotic decisions.

“This is why all Nigerians should be proud of the personal commitments and sacrifices you all made in getting us to where we are today.

“Another commendable trait worth mentioning is that all your investments have been balanced between urban and rural Nigeria. These are the types of investments needed to address the unemployment and security challenges our nation is facing today,” he said.

He reassured them that the federal government will continue to provide a favorable business climate for these investments to thrive.

On the subject of stability, the President expressed concern that the lack of job prospects and opportunities in most rural communities continued to be a major contributor to insecurity.

He pointed out that previous government policies had prioritized urban growth over rural inclusion for decades.

“In the last four years, we have worked hard to bridge some of these economic imbalances through our various agricultural and financial policies to attract employment opportunities to rural areas.

“As we continue to expand our security operations to bring an end to these challenges, it is important to note that peace and prosperity can only be sustained if we collectively and actively support investments that take opportunities to our rural citizens.

“I therefore urge our governors, bankers, investors and entrepreneurs to look beyond our cities when it comes to investments.

“As we have seen from Nigeria’s 5-year fertiliser revolution, if investors are willing to endure the short term ‘start-up’ pains, they will surely benefit from long term sustainable and substantial gains,” he said.

The President praised Jigawa State Governor Muhammad Badaru Abubakar, Mr Thomas Etuh and his FEPSAN team, the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority, security and intelligence agencies, as well as all Federal and State Government agencies for their contributions to the project’s success.

“I will also use this opportunity, on behalf of Nigerians, to thank my brother and friend, His Majesty, the King of Morocco for being with us during this difficult but exciting journey.

“This mutually beneficial partnership between our two countries is a true example of how intra-Africa trade and partnership should work,” he said.

Mr Thomas Etuh, FEPSAN President, recounted how the President gave the association a task to reduce Nigeria’s dependence on imports, improve fertilizer availability and affordability, and build employment over a four-year cycle in their first meeting five years ago.

“Today, 4 years later Mr President, I am proud to inform Your Excellency, and indeed all Nigerians, that mission is accomplished,” he said.

According to Etuh, Nigeria now has 44 blending plants, the majority of which are running at full capacity, up from three blending plants operating at 40% capacity in 2016.

“From focusing on one fertiliser blend (NPK20:10:10) in 2017, today, we have countless numbers of crop specific blends coming up across the country.

“From being reliant on imports, today over 60 per cent of raw materials used in fertiliser production are locally sourced.

“From having fertiliser scarcity which led to rationing, today any farmer can buy as many bags as he or she wants.

“As a matter of fact, some farmer associations even give customised orders for their specific crops. On behalf of the Nigerian farmers we wish to thank Mr President for empowering them,” he said.

The FEPSAN leader added that, from being an unbankable sector on the brink of bankruptcy, the association’s members have been able to collect bank guarantees and funding worth close to N100 billion in the last three months alone.

“Mr President, just 4 years ago, FEPSAN used to beg for money. Today Sir, the banks are begging us to take their money,” he said.

(THEGAZETTE)