Dangote Refinery: Timely Transforming Nigeria’s Energy Sector and Agro-Commodity Exports under the AfCFTA

Dangote Refinery, newly commissioned in May 2023 | Cardinal Torch

Welcoming Dangote Refinery

Dangote Refinery, newly commissioned in May 2023, is a monumental achievement in the African energy sector led by Aliko Dangote, poised to revolutionize Nigeria’s refining capabilities. With a capacity of 650,000 barrels per day, this mega-refinery aims to address Nigeria’s reliance on imported petroleum products. The Refinery’s operations is intended to primarily enhance energy security in Nigeria by producing refined petroleum products domestically, thus reducing the country’s dependence on imports. However, its impact extends beyond the energy sector, with the potential to transform the agro-commodity export sector and accelerate the benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)

The AfCFTA is a groundbreaking 2018 trade agreement ratified by African nations, aiming to establish a unified market across Africa, promoting economic integration and sustainable development. With the potential to become the world’s largest free trade area, it can significantly reshape the continent by enhancing intra-African trade and attracting investments. By 2035 with a 7% increase in Africa’s income resulting from up to $450 Billion in trade, the AfCFTA is set to lift 30 million Africans out of extreme poverty.

Overall, the AfCFTA presents significant opportunities for agro-commodity businesses like Cardinal Torch in terms of market expansion, value chain integration, increased trade, and collaboration. By leveraging these opportunities, agro-commodity businesses can enhance their competitiveness, contribute to economic growth, and drive sustainable development in the agricultural sector.

Here are some key ways in which the AfCFTA affects the agro-commodity sector:

  1. Increased Intra-African Trade: The AfCFTA aims to boost intra-African trade by promoting the exchange of goods and services among African countries. For agro-commodity businesses, this means increased trade opportunities with neighboring countries and the ability to diversify their customer base within the continent.
  2. Value Chain Integration: The AfCFTA encourages the development of regional value chains, which can benefit agro-commodity businesses. By integrating different stages of production and processing across multiple countries, businesses can leverage comparative advantages, access inputs at competitive prices, and enhance the efficiency of their operations.
  3. Market Expansion for Agricultural Products: The AfCFTA provides a platform for agro-commodity businesses to expand their exports of agricultural products. With simplified customs procedures and reduced trade barriers, businesses can more easily export their products to other African countries, increasing their market reach and potential revenue. Read full article here.

Cardinal Torch’s Participation in the AfCTA

AfCTA: Cardinal Torch leverages the benefits of Dangote Refinery in the evolving African trade landscape.

Cardinal Torch, as a company in the agro-commodity sector, is poised to actively participate in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), taking advantage of the vast opportunities presented by this historic initiative and benefiting from the resulting establishment of a unified market across Africa, which promotes economic integration, trade diversification, and sustainable development.

By forging strong partnerships across the continent and investing in processing facilities that add value to agro-commodities Cardinal Torch will capitalize the improved infrastructure facilitated by Dangote Refinery to optimize our logistics operations, streamline our supply chain to source raw produce and to distribute finished products, leading to cost savings and improved customer service. You can read more about how Dangote’s Refinery impacts our operations under the AfCFTA here.

Here are our insight into how Dangote Refinery transforms the agro-commodity sector across Africa through the AfCFTA:

Dangote Refinery’s Impact on Regional Energy Security

In the context of the AfCFTA, the Dangote Refinery plays a crucial role in promoting intra-African trade. The refinery’s strategic location positions Nigeria as a vital hub for petroleum product distribution within the AfCFTA framework, facilitating trade among member countries.; firstly, by enhancing the energy security of ECOWAS nations who rely on Nigeria for fuel supply.

This improved energy security creates a more stable and cost-effective environment for the agro-commodity export sector, leading to decreased input costs and increased competitiveness. Additionally, the construction and operation of the refinery necessitates the development of critical infrastructure, including roads, ports, and storage facilities. These infrastructure improvements benefit the agro-commodity sector by facilitating efficient transportation and storage, reducing post-harvest losses, and providing easier market access.

Dangote Refinery: Cardinal Torch's Insight on Regional Energy security
Improved energy security creates a more stable and cost-effective environment for the agro-commodity export sector

Conservation of Foreign Exchange Reserves

Dangote Refinery’s operations will conserve foreign exchange reserves by substituting imported petroleum products with domestically produced fuels. The Government’s savings in subsidy funds as well as foreign exchange savings can be redirected towards infrastructural development in the Nigerian stretch of the ECOWAS corridor thus enhancing logistics for agro-commodity production, processing, and marketing, further increasing export capacity.

Economic diversification and technology transfer

Additionally, the Dangote Refinery contributes to economic diversification in Nigeria. The country’s heavy reliance on oil exports makes it vulnerable to price volatility and external shocks. By expanding the non-oil sector, the refinery helps diversify the economy, creating new opportunities for job creation, entrepreneurship, and economic growth. The technology transfer associated with the construction and operation of the refinery also has a positive spill-over effect on the agro-commodity sector. It enhances agricultural productivity, promotes innovation, and improves value addition processes in the production and processing of agro-commodities.

Dangote Refinery Increases agro-businesses profit through lower input costs

The operations of the Dangote Refinery reduces the country’s reliance on imported fuels, thereby lowering the costs associated with transportation, storage, and distribution of these products. This, in turn, has a direct positive effect on the agro-commodity sector, as it reduces the expenses incurred in transporting agricultural inputs such as fertilizers, pesticides, and machinery. With lower input costs, agro-commodity businesses can improve their cost efficiency, increase their profit margins, and enhance their overall competitiveness.

Moreover, the availability of locally produced and affordable fuels supports the mechanization of farming operations, allowing farmers to access modern agricultural machinery and equipment that can further streamline their production processes and increase productivity. Overall, the Dangote Refinery plays a crucial role in reducing input costs for the agro-commodity sector, contributing to its growth and sustainability.


Dangote Refinery’s impact on the agro-commodity export sector and the AfCFTA is profound. With the commencement of operations, the Refinery presents significant opportunities for Nigeria’s economic growth and positions the country as a key player in Africa’s energy and agricultural sectors within the AfCFTA framework.

As a company in the agro-commodity sector, Cardinal Torch’s ability to leverage the benefits of Dangote Refinery to participate in the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) positions our company for growth and success in the evolving African trade landscape.

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