As a rule, I don’t get worked up over oil refineries. But the one gradually taking form on 2,500ha of swampland outside Lagos, Nigeria’s Mad Max commercial capital, is so big, so audacious and so potentially transformative that it is like Africa’s Moon landing and its Panama Canal — a Pyramids of Giza for the industrial age. If Aliko Dangote, the billionaire businessman behind what even he calls his "crazy" $12bn project, can pull it off, he will go down as the continent’s John D Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie and Andrew Mellon combined. And once he’s built it, he intends to treat himself to a small indulgence: he’ll buy Arsenal, his favourite football club. "When we finish this project, for the first time in history Nigeria will be the largest exporter of petroleum products in Africa," he tells me, summoning the drabbest of platitudes for a project of pharaonic ambition. I am sitting with Africa’s richest man discussing his life of superlatives over Thai food on his 108-foot yacht, m...

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