After making his name in India, Manish Mundra, the founder of Drishyam Films, is in the news in Nigeria for contributing to its economic growth in several ways: From petrochemicals to fertilisers.
Indorama Corporation, the conglomerate Mundra heads in Nigeria, aims to boost the agriculture sector in the West African nation with the opening of a $1.5 billion project to produce 1.5 million metric tonnes of urea fertiliser per annum so as to make the country self-sufficient in the product.
Mundra, who has worked with the Aditya Birla Group, Indian Rayon, Indo-Gulf and finally aluminium maker Hindalco, is an MBA with over 20 years of international management and mergers and acquisitions experience.
Mundra joined Indorama Group in 2002 in the corporate strategy department. Given his resourcefulness, he was transferred to Indorama Nigeria as a project manager. There, he supervised the acquisition of the state-owned Eleme Petrochemicals Company Ltd for $225 million. Mundra was appointed Deputy Managing Director of the company in 2007 and Managing Director in 2009.
He ran the Nigeria and Senegal operations, especially the expansion projects which are now concluded — Indorama Eleme Fertiliser and Chemicals Ltd (IEFCL), and ICS Senegal.
“I figured that Africa would see a growth in business and demand. Nigeria, the most populated and with the most hydrocarbon resources, was the perfect choice,” Mundra said.
Those in the oil industry said he must have his eyes on expanding Eleme as he took a personal interest long before he became the Managing Director.
“After the acquisition of Eleme Petrochemicals, the thought of establishing a fertiliser plant became a dream,” Mundra said.
“We saw that Nigeria needed a breakthrough in food production. It needs to stop its huge food imports which gulp about $5 billion annually,” Mundra said, adding: “Nigeria has abundant land resources; so there is no justification for this high import cost.”
He said about 75 per cent of Nigeria’s land can support agriculture, but only 49 per cent is in use. “It is for this reason that the company thought of building the fertiliser plant to facilitate abundant food production,” Mundra said.
Mundra does not seem to have finished with his plans for Nigeria. He said that in the coming decade, Indorama plans to make an impact on the Nigerian economy by creating jobs and consolidating its leadership in petrochemicals.
“In the next 10 years we would complete our Natural Gas Liquid plant, methanol plant and the second phase of our fertiliser plant,” he said.
“Our vision remains to build the largest petrochemicals and fertiliser hub in West Africa by 2020 with a total investment of $4.2 billion,” Mundra said.