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Business Leader of the Week: Meet Aliko Dangote, richest man in Africa

IFM_Dangote Group CEO Aliko Dangote
Aliko Dangote has continued to maintain his position as Africa’s wealthiest man for the 12th consecutive year

The Dangote Group is a Nigerian multinational industrial conglomerate. It is one of the biggest conglomerates on the African continent and the biggest in West Africa. As of the year 2021, the company has revenue in excess of USD 6.1 billion dollars, employing over 60,000 individuals.

The Dangote Group, which started off as a modest trade company in 1977, gradually grew to include freight, food processing, sugar refinery, flour and cement production. As of 2023, Dangote Group is the primary supplier to Nigeria’s soft drink breweries and confectioners. It is the biggest industrial complex in West Africa and the third-largest refinery in the world, producing 800,000 tonnes of sugar annually.

The group currently runs around 18 subsidiaries that are active in ten different African nations. One of these businesses, Dangote Cement, is listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, with its market capitalization making up about 20% of the NSE’s overall capitalization. The Dangote Group’s main office is in Lagos, Nigeria.

Dangote Cement also announced a 17% revenue hike to NGN1618.3bn (USD 3.51 million) in FY22. The company’s profit after tax increased by 4.9% to NGN382.3 billion. Net debt at the end of the period totalled NGN422.8 billion with a net gearing of 39.2%.

In 2016, Dangote and CNOOC Group agreed to work together to develop a large underwater offshore pipeline. Right now, the pipeline has been extended from Bonny (Rivers State) to Ogedegbe, Olokola, Lekki, and the Escravos Lagos supply network, before it ends at the West African Gas Pipeline.

In 2009, Dangote Group was recognized as a leading provider of employment in the Nigerian construction industry because of the company’s effort in telecommunications and the development of 14,000 Kilometres of fibre optic cables to supply the whole of Nigeria.

The brain of this Nigeria’s successful venture is 65-year-old Aliko Dangote, the founder, chairman, and CEO of the Dangote Group. He is the richest man in Africa with an estimated net worth of around USD 20 billion dollars and he is also the richest person of colour in the world.

    Who is Aliko Dangote?

  • A 65-year-old Aliko Dangote was born and brought up in an entrepreneurial household in Kano State, Nigeria
  • At the age of 21, he graduated from Egypt’s Al-Azhar University, considered one of the most prestigious universities in the Islamic world
  • Aliko Dangote became Nigeria’s first billionaire in 2007
  • In 2013, he added USD 9.2 billion to his personal wealth, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index
  • In 2014, he was appointed by President Goodluck Jonathan to serve as a member of his economic management team
  • The same year, Aliko Dangote donated 150 million nairas (USD 750,000) to halt the spread of the Ebola virus and in 2016, he donated USD 10 million dollars to support Nigerians affected by the Boko Haram insurgency
  • In 2017, there were rumours about Aliko Dangote considering a run for the Nigerian President’s chair for the 2019 election
  • For six consecutive years, from 2013-2018, Forbes listed him as the “Most Powerful Man in Africa”
  • Aliko Dangote has worked alongside the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on public health issues
  • He is now set to receive a dividend of N295 billion (USD 640.6 million) as his cement company registers another stellar financial year in 2022. The amount is higher than the annual government expenditures of African countries like Rwanda, Burkina Faso and Malawi
  • Aliko Dangote has continued to maintain his position as Africa’s wealthiest man for the 12th consecutive year, despite a USD 400 million drop in his fortune to USD 13.5 billion, according to Forbes’ list of African billionaires for 2023
  • The year-to-year decrease in Aliko Dangote’s fortune is explained by a drop in the value of Dangote Cement shares, of which he owns 85%, as well as a year of elevated inflation due to a very volatile global environment

Undeterred by Risks & Uncertainties

In an article in Harvard Business Review by Jonathan Berman titled “American CEOs Should Quit Complaining about Uncertainty,” he discussed how Aliko Dangote has continued to invest in Nigeria and other parts of Africa despite the uncertainty.

In the write-up, Jonathan Berman said, “The chief executive officers of America’s biggest companies went on a media blitz to decry the uncertainty caused by the fiscal cliff. In such uncertain times, they say, they are hesitant to invest in the US economy.”

“I departed Washington in the midst of these rumblings to attend a forum of Africa’s leading CEOs. I found Aliko Dangote, CEO of Dangote Cement. He’s building a USD 2 billion fertilizer plant in his native Nigeria. He recently announced the next two growth markets for sizable investment by his group are Iraq and Myanmar,” he said.

“For Aliko Dangote and many other executives in frontier markets, uncertainty is not the inhibitor of opportunity. It is the condition in which opportunity arises. That is a reasonable perspective to look for in American CEOs as well,” Jonathan Berman added.

In order to support his words, Jonathan Berman stated an example of Nigeria’s first petroleum refinery. During the economic slowdown, in 2013, Aliko Dangote announced that he would construct a USD 9 billion petrochemical complex and oil refinery in Nigeria.

After the completion of the project, it was Nigeria’s first and Africa’s largest petroleum refinery.

“As an investor who believes in Nigeria, knows Nigeria well and whose prosperity was made in Nigeria, we have responded to the challenge with our decision to invest USD 9 billion in a refinery/petrochemical and fertilizer complex to be located at the OKLNG Free Trade Zone. This complex will be the largest industrial complex project ever in the history of our great nation,” Aliko Dangote said back then.

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