Nigerian billionaires Aliko Dangote, Abdul Samad Rabiu and John Coumantaros have all been awarded unhindered access to foreign exchange and the sole right to import sugar by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Vanguard reported.
The announcement was made on July 16 in a circular sent by the Nigerian apex bank, which was signed by its Trade and Exchange Department Director Ozoemena Nnaji.
The circular established that only Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc, Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc’s Golden Sugar Company and BUA Sugar Refinery Limited can access foreign exchange unhindered from the CBN to import sugar into the country.
The CBN stated that the sugar companies have made reasonable progress in achieving Nigeria’s backward integration plan in the sector.
Under the National Sugar Development Council, the government established the Nigerian Sugar Master Plan to encourage and incentivize sugar-refining companies to engage in its Backward Integration Program for local sugar production.
Backward integration is a process in which a company acquires or partners with other businesses that supply its raw materials for production, especially within its locality.
In April, Dangote and Coumantaros launched legal action against Rabiu for producing sugar for local consumption.
They called on the Nigerian government to shut down the billionaire’s sugar plant in the Bundu Free Trade Zone in Port Harcourt in Rivers State.
The duo complained that the plant violated the government’s plan and that it operated with impunity, claiming that it had to export its products and not sell them locally.
However, despite their conflict, the three businessmen attended the Choose France Business Summit in June hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron, where Rabiu emerged as the inaugural president of the France-Nigeria Business Council.