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Afreximbank Loans Saved Dangote Refinery from Death by ‘Oil Mafia’

Aliko Dangote, the owner of Africa’s largest oil refinery, charged Wednesday, June 12, that the multinational oil cartel had “made repeated attempts” to prevent his refinery from being completed. Dangote explicitly likened the oil multis to a “mafia,” one he said was worse than the drug cartel. According to him, this “mafia” included not just oil companies, but the banks with which they do business.

Speaking to the CEO Forum of the Afreximbank’s Annual Meeting, Dangote said, “I knew there would be a fight. But I didn’t know that the mafia in oil—they are stronger than the mafia in drugs, I can tell you that. They tried all sorts of things to stop me…. During the COVID period, some of the international banks really were looking forward to making sure that they [pushed] us into default of our loans so that the project will just be dead. And that didn’t happen, with the help of banks like Afreximbank.”

Dangote said he had borrowed $5.5 billion (over 25% of the $19 billion project) from the Afreximbank, of which he had already paid off $2.4 billion. While not attributing it to “mafia” interference, Dangote had to walk back the date he expected to produce gasoline for Nigeria, pushing it back to sometime in July. Several Nigerian media additionally reported that he was next considering expanding into steel so that he (and Nigeria) would no longer have to rely on imports.