By Emma Okonji, Nosa Alekhuogie in Lagos and Alex Enumah
The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), Mr. Uche Orji, has said the planned establishment of an ammonia plant in Akwa Ibom State will crash the price of fertiliser.
Ammonia is one of the raw materials for the production of fertiliser and it is produced from gas.
Orji, who spoke yesterday on ‘The Morning Show’ of ARISE NEWS Channel, the broadcast arm of THISDAY Newspapers, said Nigeria and Morocco recently signed agreements to supply Morocco with ammonia for the production of ammonia sulphate fertiliser.
The initiative, he said, would crash the cost of fertilisers in the country, adding that Nigeria has the capacity to turn waste gas into productive products like ammonia.
Citing Dangote Group and other companies that are producing different blends of fertiliser in the country, Orji said if Nigeria had such fertiliser plants and ammonia producing plant in Nigeria, it would drive down the cost of the commodity.
According to him, the agreement signed between Nigeria and Morocco remains a milestone and an accomplishment of the earlier agreement signed in 2018.
“So, in 2018, Nigeria agreed to explore the agreement with Morocco and in 2021, we reached the final agreement to proceed with the production of ammonia for export to Morocco.
“We searched for a suitable site to establish a plant for the production of ammonia and we settled for Akwa Ibom State, having carried out feasibility studies in Rivers and Delta States.
“We are hoping to start the construction of the plant in Akwa Ibom this year and it will take about two to three years to complete the construction of the plant, and after that, we will start producing and exporting ammonia products. The plan is to export 70 per cent of our total production and leave 30 per cent for domestic use,” Orji said.
He attributed the siting of the production plant in Akwa Ibom State to some factors, including the states in Nigeria that produce gas, availability, and supply of gas and the availability of the right location to establish the plant.
He added that the availability of space for big vehicular movement to transport the product was also one of the factors considered.
“We also considered the environmental factor because ammonia could cause devastating damage during spillover,” Orji added.
He stated that the plant would be a multi-purpose industrial plant, with room to expand and produce different blends of fertiliser for different crops, adding that he is certain about the possibilities that Nigeria can accomplish through the initiative.
Speaking about the expected challenges in establishing the ammonia plant, Orji said: “There are expected challenges in the production of ammonia in Akwa Ibom, but we will address all expected challenges, especially community environmental challenges and construction challenges. But immediately we get the cooperation from Akwa Ibom community, we will be good to go.”
Expressing the zeal of government to domesticate fertiliser production, Orji said in 2017, the NSIA was tasked with managing the fertiliser initiative, which has its own accomplishments in its own rights. According to him, that was the time the federal government wanted to domesticate the production of fertiliser blends in Nigeria, and to achieve that, the country had to buy raw materials like ammonium phosphate from Morocco and other raw materials from other countries.
“At that time, only four fertiliser blending plants were working in the country, and fertiliser was sold between N13,000 and N15,000 per bag, and the government was paying a subsidy for fertiliser. Last year, Nigeria had over 42 domestic fertiliser blending plants in operation, and the cost of fertiliser dropped to N5,500 per bag and later it was sold for N4,500 per bag. But the hike in the cost of raw materials has also increased the cost per bag of fertiliser to N5,000.
“In the first year of implementation of the initiative to domesticate fertiliser blends in Nigeria, we had in excess of seven million bags of fertiliser in warehouses across Nigeria,” Orji said.