Dangote Group yesterday signed medium term loan agreement of $3.30 billion (N515 billion) with a consortium of both international and local banks to construct the biggest petroleum oil refinery and petrochemical/ fertilizer plants in Nigeria.

The plants, which will cost $9 billion (about N1.4 trillion) will generate up to 9,500 direct and 25,000 indirect jobs. The $9 billion project will be financed by $3 billion equity and $6 billion loan capital.

The loan agreement signing between Dangote and a consortium of 12 local and international banks was the first tranche of loans secured by Dangote, comprising $3.3 billion.

This first facility was jointly co-ordinated by Standard Chartered Bank as the global coordinator, and Nigeria’s Guaranty Trust Bank PLC as the local coordinator.

With the refining capacity expected to reach 400,000 barrels of crude oil per day and producing a variety of refined fuel products from local crude resources, Nigeria will cut its current volumes of imported fuel products by a massive 50 per cent.

Speaking at the event, President of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, said the fertilizer plant which will produce 2.8 million tonnes of urea will be channelled into growing the local agriculture sector which is essential in producing healthy crops and promoting Nigeria and West Africa’s agricultural development.

The petrochemical plant, according to him, will also produce polypropylene which is a common component of most plastic and fabric products; for example, it is used in various forms of packaging, ropes and agro-sacks.

“This plant will further entrench Africa’s role on the global map as not only a valued contributor for natural resources, but also a competent manufacturer of refined products and fertilizer,” he said.

Managing Director of Guaranty Trust Bank PLC, who spoke on behalf of the local banks, Mr Segun Agbaje, said: “this is the largest syndication by banks in Nigeria and it is being undertaken with the knowledge that the successful implementation of Dangote refinery and fertilizer project will have far-reaching implications for Nigeria’s economic growth.”

Agbaje further stated that GTBank is very proud to be associated with Dangote Industries on this landmark project and praised its chairman, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, for his steadfastness, hard work and genuine desire to see remarkable economic improvement in the country.

Also, CEO of Standard Chartered Bank in Nigeria, Ms Bola Adesola, added: “Standard Chartered is proud to support the Dangote Group in a project which will significantly boost Nigeria’s economic productivity and create valuable jobs with specialist skills from key growth sectors.

Other participating banks are Access Bank, Zenith Bank, Ecobank Nigeria Limited, Fidelity Bank, First Bank Nigeria Limited, Standard Bank of South Africa Limited, UBA, FirstRand Bank, First City Monument Bank and Diamond Bank.

Vice President Namadi Sambo who witnessed the event commended Dangote for the refinery project and charged other investors in the country to take a cue.

He said the administration has created the enabling environment for businesses to thrive in the country.

Central Bank Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi said the refinery deals with Nigerian banks showed that the banks are healthier, while attributing it to the banking reforms the CBN carried out earlier.

He said the time was ripe for Nigeria to start supporting the manufacturing sector and discourage importation.