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Seven interesting facts about Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man

Aliko Dangote

Aliko Dangote

It is only fair to assume that for every informed Nigerian and practically every African, the name Dangote has become synonymous with exuberant levels of wealth.

He has been the richest man in Africa for as long as anyone can remember, and has run one of the most successful indigenous conglomerates on the continent, so it is hardly any surprise that numerous individuals on the continent have taken a keen interest in whatever the man ventures into.

Dangote’s name finds itself permanently in news rounds, whether for his individual exploits or the work his company does – which, of course, piques the interest of the general public.

Needless to say, business can be unpredictable, especially considering factors such as market volatility, the evolution of customer needs and wants, and the possibility of political distortion.

Regardless, Aliko Dangote has built one of the most sustainable businesses on the planet, able to absorb both internal and external shocks, the likes of which can even shake a government to the core.

So, in retrospect, it is safer to bet that Dangote Industries is going to have a great year than a despondent one, and here are seven interesting facts as to why this may be.

1. The loan that started Dangote Industries

Although Dangote comes from a wealthy family in Nigeria, he carved his own path with a loan given to him by his great-grandfather.

“I came from a wealthy family – well, my great-grandfather was very wealthy. After educating me, he gave me a loan and I paid back in three months because business was so good,” he said in an interview with Al Jazeera.

Dangote Cement is a subsidiary of Dangote Industries, which was founded by Dangote in 1981 as a trading business with an initial focus on importing bagged cement and other commodities such as rice, sugar, flour, salt and fish.

2. Pre-eminence of wealth

At the time of filing this article, Bloomberg had Dangote at 77th in its international billionaire index, with a net worth of US$18.7 billion and a year-to-date change of +$25.7 million.

The next African on the list is in 162nd position with a net worth of $11.4 billion.

The scale of these numbers shows that, barring an apocalyptic event, the figures would remain in the same range even if Dangote’s company should underperform, and will jump much higher should it scale.

3. Staying grounded

The simple and humble Dangote, who is known for being soft-spoken and polite, said: “My upbringing from my grandfather helped me a lot. He used to drive himself and that’s what I do now.

“Once I finish this interview I won’t go out with any driver, I will drive alone.

“They say that no condition is permanent, so I try to stay humble,” he told Al Jazeera.

4. Jobs and empowerment

The “Dangote” name, much like being synonymous with wealth creation, is also synonymous with job creation.

Aliko Dangote’s business is one of the highest employers on the entire continent. But in Q4 of 2022, this industry promised to kick job creation a notch higher.

“I give back, unlike other Africans where most of the monies is in the bank. We [Dangote Industries] don’t keep anything in the bank. Whatever we make we fully invest in creating jobs,” he said.

In December he promised to create 300,000 jobs for Nigerians. He also promised scholarships to 460 students.

Dangote Industries pledged to increase the human capacity at the Dangote Refinery project site from 40,000 to 57,000 personnel in the coming months. And he also hinted at increasing his operational footprint in Africa.

5. Oil refinery

Last year, Dangote hinted at the prospect of African refined oils and quickly set plans in motion to get his oil refinery running by Q3 of 2023.

This refinery is set to produce roughly 600,000 million barrels of petroleum products per day, which is at least one-third of Nigeria’s entire oil production average in a good month.

As of this moment, the refinery is still being built and reports say that it is nearing completion.

6. Philanthropy

It has become common practice among the wealthy to donate parts of their fortune to charity. Dangote is no exception.

Recently, he donated relief materials worth ₦1.5 billion ($3.3 million) to flood victims in northern Nigeria. He also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Kano State government to check the prevalence of malnutrition in the state, which currently disburses roughly 30,000 free meals daily to disadvantaged citizens.

In addition, Dangote Cement plc’s Ibese Plant launched a multimillion-naira corporate social responsibility initiative for its host communities. These and other efforts suggest that Dangote’s philanthropy could register a significant boost in 2023.

7. Business projections

The year 2022 was not without its challenges for Dangote. There were months when the company performed worse than projected. However, the final lap of the year saw Dangote’s fortune steering in the right direction.

In Q4 of 2022, Dangote’s revenue grew by 6.2% despite a $611 million loss in the first ten months of the year. Dangote Cement also recorded an increase in revenue of ₦1.177 trillion, up 15.2% in 2022, compared to 2021.

These numbers show a steady growth in his ventures. And with plans to produce oil, Dangote’s business projections are nothing short of positive.

 

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