There are three regions in Africa which have stronger chemical industries than the rest of the continent. These are the North African region, West Africa and Southern Africa. The development of chemical industries in these regions has been facilitated by access to larger markets and by the presence of feedstocks such as natural gas coupled with good downstream oil refining or cracking infrastructure. In North Africa, there are strong chemicals industries in Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia. In the West African region, Nigeria is the main producer and user of chemicals. In the south, the prime market and producer is South Africa. This country differs from the others in that its chemical industry is largely based on coal which is used as feedstock for its extensive synthetic fuels industry.
The chemical markets in Africa are largely targetted at meeting local needs for chemical feedstocks and intermediates rather than being export orientated. In the case of the Mediterranean countries, the proximity to markets has lead to a greater export focus than in other areas. Petrochemical commodities, polymers and fertilisers are the main products of the African chemicals industry.
The companies participating in the African chemicals sector include private indigenous African companies, various state owned structures, semi-private companies, multinational chemical company majors, traders, agents and distributors.
There are a number of medium sized private sector chemical companies operating in Africa. These generally tend to be regional or single country players and in many instances are involved in manufacturing, processing and marketing. In South Africa there are a number of chemicals companies which play a dominant role in the Sub-Saharan Africa region. These include the various subsidiaries and joint venture companies of the Sasol, AECI and Dow-Sentrachem groups.
Sasol Chemical Industries manufactures a wide range of primary, intermediate and final chemical products which are marketed in Africa and to the rest of the world. Included are solvents, waxes, ammonia, fertilisers, alcohols, explosives, phenolic products, carbon-tar products including anode coke, acrylonitrile, acrylic fibres, mining chemicals and alpha-olefins. AECI has recently opened new explosives factories in four African countries.
Chempro is a South African company which is active in the supply of key products to the oil refining, lubricant and fuel markets. Products include catalysts, process chemicals, performance additives and specialised dyestuffs. Chempro's Rogoff Fine Chemicals Division is active in the supply of materials to the personal care and health care manufacturing sectors.
Protea Industrial Chemicals distributes chemicals in the Southern Africa region. Amine products and fertiliser anti-caking agents are manufactured in South Africa by Kenochem. Distributors for Kenochem are active in West Africa, Europe and Australia.
National oil and chemical companies play an important role in the African chemicals industry. Included are Sonatrach, the Algerian national oil company, the Egyptian Petrochemicals Company (EGP) which is a subsidiary of the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC), the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the National Petrochemical Company (Napecto) in Libya. A number of national companies are active in the fertiliser sector. these include the Office Che'rifien des Phosphates (OCP) in Morocco, the National Fertiliser Company of Nigeria (NAFCON) and the State-owned Groupe Chimique Tunisien.
Multinational chemical and petrochemical companies active in Africa include Hoechst, Du Pont, Bayer, Shell, TotalFinaElf and Exxonmobil. Offshore chemical principals which are represented in Africa include many of the world's major chemical companies. Included are Akzo Nobel Chemicals, BASF, Albemarle Corporation, Bayer, Ethyl Petroleum Additives, Monsanto, Rhone Poulenc, ICI, Union Carbide and Ro"hm and Haas.
Suppliers of additives and chemicals for the manufacture of personal and health care manufacturing include Ambrosius GmbH, Mikrochem, Salim Oleochemicals, Sud Chemie Rheologicals, Warner Jenkinson (Europe), Witco Corporation which are represented by Rogoff Fine Chemicals.