Dangote Group is building a refinery. But I do think it is off by at least ten years to extract the maximum value on that investment. Though Nigeria continues to import petroleum products, distorting our balance of payments, and crushing the Naira, my model is that the refinery business will do well, marginally. Yes, the refinery will fix market friction but it would be distorted in years. As I drive across America, a popular scene now is closed gas stations, picking up where malls stopped.
Looking at all trajectories Aliko Dangote is getting poorer despite doing more! It is a paradox because technically Dangote has improved his asset quality over the last seven years, as Dangote Group evolves to become an industrialized conglomerate.
He was worth $25 billion in 2014, becoming the world’s 23rd richest person. In 2019, he became the world’s 100th at $10.8 billion. Today, Dangote is worth $7.7 billion as the 162nd richest person on earth. Understand that what is happening to Dangote is “technical value erosion”: he is still accumulating more Naira but currency deterioration and devaluation have decimated his global standing.
I expect naira to hit N502 per dollar, from N381 today, by May 2023, and if Dangote does not follow through, he could be off the billionaire club. Of course, he has a plan when he said on Bloomberg: “In Africa, you know we have issues of devaluation, so we want to really ‘preserve’ some of the family’s wealth.” Dangote plans to ship some wealth to New York to diversify out of Africa!
Simply, once Ford, GM, Toyota etc stop making fossil-powered cars, Nigerians cannot get special treatments. Because we do not make cars, we have to adjust! The refineries of the future are charging stations and not crude oil refining. In the U.S., most refineries are going bankrupt because in the next few years, the cost of buying an electric car would be at parity with fossil-fueled cars.
Do not put so much power in refinery business as a business for decades. The useful life of that sector is in years, not decades. We expect Tesla to produce EV cars that would be as affordable as Toyota, Honda, etc in the coming years. But Ford, GM and Toyota may get there before it.
So, my thesis is this: the best refinery business of the future in Nigeria, starting 2030 is charging stations because the world will not walk back on the march to EV because Nigeria likes their hydrocarbonated cars.