Dangote hails from Kano State, Nigeria, to Muslim parents, Mariya Sanusi Dantata and Mohammed Dangote. Aliko is a Business Studies graduate from Al-Azahar University, Cairo, Egypt. He is the owner and president of the Dangote Group, which has operations in Nigeria and several other countries in Africa, including Benin, Cameroon, Ghana, South Africa and Zambia. A wealthy supporter of erstwhile President Olusegun Obasanjo and the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP). With an estimated current net worth of around US$ 13.8 billion, he was ranked by Forbes as one of the richest Nigerian citizens and richest person of African descent in the world toppling Mohammed Al Amoudi ($12.3 billion) and Oprah Winfrey ($2.7 billion.)
Aliko Dangote first ventured into business in 1977 at the age of 21 years. He started with a small capital given to him by his grandfather, Alhaji Sanusi Dantata. He was involved in trading in local commodities and building materials. Around June 1977, he moved into Lagos and continued trade in cement and commodities. Aliko Dangote’s business started to experience tremendous success and increase. This encouraged him to incorporate two companies in 1981. These and more companies to follow have developed into the Dangote Group. With a small token from his grandfather and a latter loan he took from same, he started a business. Now, he is the richest man in Africa, with net worth of $16.1 billion, as of March 2013, in Forbes’ estimates. Explaining, Dangote said “for me, I started small as a trader in cement. Then I left cement around 1978. Because there was this armada and cement was difficult to get at that time. I had my own money which my grandfather gave me free, but then he gave me also an additional loan of N500, 000 (about $3,000) which was big money in those days. The money was quite a substantial amount then. The loan was supposed to be paid back whenever I was okay-maybe after three or four years. But I paid the loan back within six months.”
At the time, Dangote was given the N500, 000 loan in 1978, which he could have easily used to chase cars, houses and whatever caught his fancy. Back then, a Mercedes Benz car was sold for N5,000 while a Volkswagen Beetle went for N900 to N1,000. But he didn’t do any of those, instead he invested the money and he was able to pay back the loan in six months, as against the originally thought three or four years.
CAREER AND LIFE
Dangote Group has its headquarters in the bursting metropolis of Lagos State, Nigeria in West Africa. The Group has earned an honest reputation for quality goods and services, cost leadership and efficiency of human resources.
The Group is a very diverse conglomerate with very good revenue. Dangote Textiles and The Nigeria Textile Mills, which it recently acquired, produce over 120 000 meters of finished textiles on a daily basis. The Group has a ginnery in Kankawa, Katsina Statewith a capacity of 30 000 MT of seeded cotton annually. The sugar refinery at Apapa port, Lagos is the largest in Africa and in size the third largest worldwide with an annual capacity of 700,000 tonnes of refined sugar annually. It also has another 100,000 tonne-capacity sugar mill at Hadeja in Jigawa State.
Besides having significant investment in the National Salt Company of Nigeria at Ota, Ogun State, the group has salt factories at Apapa as well as Calabar, a polypropylene bagging factory which produces essential bags for its products, over 600 trailers for effective distribution network and goods meant for export can also successfully be transported to the respective ports.
A vehicle leasing unit with over 100 fully air-conditioned commuter buses, is also part of the Dangote Group. It is also into real estate with luxury flats and high rise complexes in Ikoyi, Victoria Island, Abuja and Kano. Dangote Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the group where yearly he spends millions for worthy causes such as contributions to educational and healthcare institutions, sinking of boreholes and giving of scholarships. The Dangote Group has nationwide staff strength of 12,000 but on completion of on-going projects, it is expected to hit 22,000. Alhaji Aliko Dangote’s business success may be influenced by various factors. He seems to be broad-minded. Unlike some people, his Personal Assistant is Yoruba while his Head of Corporate Affairs is a Christian from Delta State.
In this encounter, Dangote talks about his driving force in business, the factors that have kept him above his contemporaries in business, his $800 million cement factory at Obajana, Kogi State and the N14 million mega company, which he and some industrialists have set up. Perhaps above all, his patriotic stance is commendable: “If you give me today $5 billion, I will not invest any abroad, I will invest everything here in Nigeria. Let us put heads together and work.”
As a self-employed person, with minimum basic education, he proves that business success is usually through strength of mind, honesty and perseverance; and not necessarily by obtaining Harvard-Oxford certificates or First-Class academic qualification. His managerial skills surely are the envy of economic professors.
Instead of stashing his funds in foreign accounts, a typical feature of fraudulent front and public office looters, Dangote invests wisely in the productive sector of the Nigerian economy.To deny that Dangote doesn’t have monopoly over a few of the commodities in the Nigerian market is to deny the obvious. Recently, Aliko and other notable Nigerians announced their intention to float a private sector mega company with the name Transnational Corporation of Nigeria (TCN), which amongst other things may acquire government-owned refinery, operate strategic state-owned coys and pioneer status in Agriculture & Information Technology.
In recognition of Aliko Dangote ’s contributions to the growth of the Nigerian economy and his philanthropy, he has been conferred with several awards including the prestigious ZIK Award for professional leadership (1992), the International Award of Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Cross River State Roll of Honour Award (2002) and the Thisday Newspapers Award for Chief Executive Officer of the Year (2005). He was conferred with the national honour of Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) in 2000 and Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) in 2005. Alhaji Aliko Dangote serves on the Boards of the National Council of Nigerian Vision, Mohammed Bello Endowment for Justice and Jurisprudence, Kano Foundation, the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, African Petroleum Plc, National Investment Promotion Council and the Heart of Africa (a management group on Nigeria Image Project), etc.
Dangote played a prominent role in the funding of Obasanjo’s re-election campaign in 2003, to which he contributed over N200 million (US$2M). He gave N50 million (US$0.5M) to the National Mosque under the aegis of “Friends of Obasanjo and Atiku”, and contributed N200 million to the Presidential Library. These controversial gifts to members of the ruling People’s Democratic Party have contributed to concerns over continued graft despite highly-publicized anti-corruption drives during Obasanjo’s second term. On 23 May 2010, England’s Daily Mirror newspaper reported that Dangote was interested in buying a 16 percent stake in Premiership side Arsenal belonging to Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith. Dangote later denied these rumours.
On 14 November 2011, Dangote was awarded Nigeria’s second highest honour, the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON) by the President, Goodluck Jonathan. Dangote reportedly added $9.2 billion to his personal wealth in 2013, according to the Bloomberg Index, now making him the 30th richest person in the world, in addition to being the richest person in Africa. In 2014, the Nigerian government said Dangote had donated 150 million Naira (US$1 million) to halt the spread of ebola.
AWARDS AND ENDORSEMENTS
Dangote was named as the Forbes Africa Person of the Year 2014. The other nominees for the award were South Africa’s Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela, Nigerian author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission, (SEC), Arunma Oteh, and President of the African Development Bank, Donald Kaberuka
RUMORS AND CONTROVERSIES He once was accused of bribery by the Zambian president in 2014