Alhaji Aliko Dangote, a northerner from Kano State, Nigeria, was born on 10 April 1957 into a wealthy Muslim family. From the time he was young Dangote had an eye on business. He said, “I can remember when I was in primary school, I would go and buy cartons of sweets and I would start selling them just to make money. I was so interested in business, even at that time.
Heralded by some as the face of the new Nigeria, Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man, is looking beyond cement, sugar and flour — the three commodities that built his fortune — to the oil business. In April he announced $9 billion in financing from a consortium of local and international lenders to construct a private oil refinery and fertilizer and petrochemical complex in the country.
Mr. Dangote is the founder of the Dangote Group, which has operations in Nigeria and several other countries in West Africa. Dangote Cement is Africa’s largest cement manufacturer, with over 26,000 employees in Nigeria.
New plants planned for Kenya and Niger
His publicly traded Dangote Cement is also grabbing new markets in Africa, with $750 million in new plants planned for Kenya and Niger. Dangote group now employs about 25,000 people in Nigeria. It is building cement factories in 16 African countries and buying mining licences from Kenya to Zambia.
“Africa is full of opportunities and I think what we did was actually harness fully the opportunities that we met on the ground,” he says.
“We have done quite a lot in various areas. We started with trading, after we succeeded in training what we did was go into manufacturing, which is normally a very difficult area, especially in this part of the world because of lack of power. But we have been able to resolve those issues and we are able to succeed in most of what we are doing.”
On being the poorest continent’s richest man for the fourth year in a row, Dangote says “it feels a little bit odd, yes it’s true, but then it gives you a lot of thinking and responsibility. You ask ‘what do I do to impact humanity?’ And that is why we do quite a lot in terms of Dangote foundation.”
Simple, Hardworking and Humble
Despite all this wealth and outstanding achievements as a businessman, Dangote remains as simple, hardworking, humble and cool headed as he was in the very beginning. He is the owner of the largest industrial business in Nigeria and the whole of West Africa providing bread and butter for thousands of families with his employment opportunities. He is the richest African in the world and an inspiration for the young minds who want to succeed as entrepreneurs.
As far as politics are concerned, Dangote played a very prominent role in the funding of Olusegun Obasanjo’s re-election bid in 2003, to which he gave over N200 million (US$2M). He also contributed N50 million (US$0.5M) to the National Mosque under the aegis of “Friends of Obasanjo and Atiku”. He also contributed N200 million to the Presidential Library. These highly controversial gifts to members of the ruling Party [PDP] have generated significant concerns despite highly publicised anti-corruption drives during Obasanjo’s second term.
In 2014, the Nigerian government said Dangote had donated 150 million Naira (US$1 million) to halt the spread of ebola.
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