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Nigeria’s President Buhari launches $2.5 billion Dangote Fertilizer Plant. To whose benefit exactly?

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President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria was in Lagos on Tuesday, the commercial capital of Nigeria for the launch of what experts have called the largest fertilizer plant in Africa owned by Africa’s richest man, and President/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote.

According to the official website of the plant, Dangote Fertiliser Plant is Africa’s largest Granulated Urea Fertiliser complex. The plant occupies 500 hectares of land in Lekki Free Trade Zone, Lagos Nigeria. It was built at a cost of $2.5 Billion.

Also at the inauguration of the $2.5 billion project were dignitaries including Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-olu, Central Bank of Nigeria Governor Godwin Emefiele, and Nigeria’s Minister of Trade and Investment Niyi Adebayo.

With food being a basic necessity of life and growing food shortage across the world that has been further enhanced by the ongoing Ukraine/Russia war, the use of fertilizers is central to sustainable productivity in the agriculture sector as the shortage of fertilizers has contributed to the worsening food crisis with about 250 million people going to bed hungry and Africa spending more than $35 billion on food imports annually as it continues to grapple with low agricultural productivity.

The launch of the Dangote plant is timely as many African soils are unable to supply crops with the nutrients they need due to infertility and degradation that has stemmed from inappropriate land-use practices over several centuries.

Beyond serving the Nigeria and Africa fertilizer market, the plant is said to be established to produce 3 million metric tonnes per annum of urea fertilizer in phase 1 which is above Nigeria’s current level of fertilizer consumption in the country which is 1.5 million metric tonnes.

While delivering his speech shortly after the mega project was commissioned, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, said that the products from its newly commissioned fertilizer plant are already in the African market as well as the United States, Brazil, India and Mexico.

 

If things turned as they seem, the new fertilizer plant should mean a major leap in Nigeria’s agriculture sector with President Muhammadu Buhari’s many agric-based initiatives. However, the peculiarity of Nigeria informs that enthusiasm should be with caution. Amidst the many challenges of industrialization in Nigeria, fingers are crossed on the efficiency of the plant, hopefully, it does not go the way of the Dangote tomatoes processing factory that has repeatedly shut down operation.

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AfDB to sponsor Rwanda’s African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation

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The African Development Bank (AfDB) says it will be sponsoring Rwanda’s venture to host the new African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation.

The venture is expected boost the continent’s access to technology in manufacturing medicines and vaccines.

AfDB President Dr Akinwumi Adesina said the project includes “revamping Africa’s pharmaceutical industry, building Africa’s vaccine manufacturing capacity, and building Africa’s quality healthcare infrastructure.

“Even with the decision of the Trips waiver at the World Trade Organization (WTO), millions are dying -and will most likely continue to die – from lack of vaccines and effective protection,” Dr Adesina said.

Meanwhile the venture has drawn commendation from players. The Director-General of the World Trade Organization, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, remarked that the project “provides part of the infrastructure needed to assure an emergent pharmaceutical industry in Africa.”

Africa is short of pharmaceutical companies that fits its population size. The continent is currently home to about 375 pharmaceutical firms, which produce less than 25 percent of the needed products annually, forcing the countries to import vastly to meet demand.

This dependence on imports leaves citizens vulnerable to shortages of medication — a problem that triggered a continent-wide crisis during the pandemic.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, small pharmacies and large medical stores in Rwanda ran out of stock. In South Africa, it became nearly impossible to fill prescriptions for psychiatric drugs and oral contraceptives. In Kenya, oncologists complained about challenges treating their cancer patients. And in Nigeria, stocks of treatments to manage chronic illnesses, including HIV medicines, dipped critically low.

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Farmers lament as wild fire, heat waves cut grain harvest in Tunisia

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Farmers union in Tunisia has forecasted that output will fall well short of government hopes following heat waves and fires that are badly damaging the country’s grain harvest.

Farmers union official Mohamed Rejaibia, pointing to fires that began raging over much of the country last month, said that was no longer possible.

“The grain harvest will not be more than 1.4 million tonnes,” said Rejaibia, a member of the union’s executive office. “Some of it will be lost to fires and some perhaps during collection.”

The North African country has struggled with food importation costs driven higher by the war in Ukraine. That is largely because Ukraine and Russia account for a great amount of the global supply for grains, particularly wheat.

Earlier this month, agriculture minister, Mhamoud Elyess Hamza forecasted the 2022 grain harvest would reach 1.8 million tonnes, that is 10% up from last year’s harvest.

Wild fire has had a devastating effect in Tunisia. According to a statement released by the Tunisian Federation of Insurance Companies (FTUSA), the insurance industry in the country paid fire insurance claims totalling TND25m ($8m) in 2015 and the quantum jumped over the years to TND107m in 2020. That represented an average increase over 30% a year.

Another farmer, Abderraouf Arfaoui, in Krib, revealed that most of his colleagues had to harvest their grains earlier than usual.

“Usually we begin the harvest season in July, but this year we started on June 18… we are afraid of fires. We must watch our land day and night.

“We must harvest without waiting, even if that reduces the quantity and quality of the wheat, and when we finish the harvest we must watch our haystacks, too.”

 According to Thinkhazard, wildfire hazard is classified as high with more than a 50% chance of encountering weather that could support a significant wildfire that is likely to result in both life and property loss in any given year.

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