Morocco's OCP to commission Nigeria, Ghana plants in 2024

RABAT, June 25 (Reuters) - Morocco’s OCP Group expects a fertiliser plant in Ghana and an ammonia plant in Nigeria to be operational by 2024, the company’s chief growth officer said, adding 2 million tonnes a year to its global output capacity.

OCP, the world’s biggest phosphates exporter, will build the two plants, each with capacity of 1 million tonnes a year, as part of its push to drive the use of phosphates-based fertilisers in Africa, Soufiyane El Kassi said via email.

It had already announced plans to start operating a 2.5-million tonnes a year fertiliser plant in Ethiopia by 2023 or 2024 with phosphoric acid supplied from Morocco, and El Kassi said its output would be for both the domestic and export markets.

Like many other Moroccan firms, including banks, insurers and real estate companies, OCP has been expanding its investments in Sub-Saharan Africa in recent years, boosting the kingdom’s economic clout.

The group also operates 28 blending units where fertilizers are customised to the requirements of different soils and has offered training to help 750,000 African farmers in eight countries to increase production.

In 2019, OCP’s fertilisers exports hit 9 million tonnes, including 1.8 million tonnes to Africa or 58% of total fertilisers sold on the continent.

Low international prices however incurred a 3% drop in revenue to $5.5 bln in 2019.

It has cut production by 500,000 tonnes in the first quarter, a move which El Kassi said was to adapt to market demand.

The OCP, with net debt at $4.7 bln in 2019, last issued an international bond in 2015.

“Maintaining a footprint in the Eurobond market has always been part of our financing strategy,” Kassi said. (Reporting by Ahmed Eljechtimi;Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)