Recently, Dangote Group expanded its business frontiers across the Nigerian border by establishing a 2.5 million metric tonnes per annum cement plant in Ethiopia. Nwakaego Ohaegbulam in this report, looks into the business mogul’s expanding business empire.
I built a conglomerate and emerged the richest black man in the world but it didn’t happen overnight. It took me 30 years to get to where I am today. Youths of today aspire to be like me but they want to achieve it overnight. It’s not going to work. To build a successful business, you must start small and dream big. In the journey of entrepreneurship, tenacity of purpose is supreme.” – Aliko Dangote Indeed Aliko Dangote, chairman of the Dangote Group has proven beyond reasonable doubt that tenacity of purpose is indeed supreme and key to successful entrepreneurship. .
Over the weekend, Aliko Dangote opened the 2.5 million metric tonnes per annum cement plant in Ethiopia with a prospect to create about 7,000 job opportunities in that country. Speaking at the occasion, Dangote charged African leaders to make the environment conducive for the growth of real sector as a sure way to create jobs and reduce poverty adding that achievement of a real economic integration in Africa would require that Africans work together to ensure economic and political stability on the continent. While harping on the need for a genuine collaboration between the private sector and governments across Africa to address issues of infrastructure deficit which has plagues the continent for decades, Dangote said that conscious efforts must be made to break down the barriers and borders between countries so as to allow free flow of goods, services and people.
With this recent feat, Dangote continues to expand his publicly traded Dangote Cement across the continent with plans to build new plants in Kenya and Niger. With a modest beginning in February 1977, his company set out as Nigerian Midas with focus on trading in cement. In 1979, young Aliko took the decision to stand on his own and with a N500, 000 loan from his uncle, Sanusi Dantata whom he had earlier understudied. With the loan, a princely sum then, he delved into trading and his choice was cement. From being an ordinary dealer attached to a supply chain of his cousin, Aliko moved up the ladder to import not only cement, but also rice, vegetable oil, sugar and salt. Not satisfied with being a commodity dealer, Dangote changed his focus to a more aspiring entre-preneur.
Which he knew could only happen by enlarging his business coast and expanding his corporate frontiers. Consequently, in 1993 he acquired controlling shares in Nigerian Textile Mills. Today his investment range from, manufacturing of Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) to import and export, he exports cotton, cocoa, cashew nuts, sesame seed, ginger and gum Arabic to several countries of the world. Over the past three decades, he has systematically built up his fortune and with current expansion plans for his Dangote group, he shows no signs of stopping. It is therefore not surprising that Dangote Group is now the largest indigenous industrial conglomerate in Sub-Saharan Africa.
With major interests in cement (his conglomerate’s largest subsidiary), sugar, salt, flour mills and several agricultural products which he exports across the continent, he also has made major investments in real estate, banking, transport, textiles as well as oil and gas. His business versatility also covers the manufacturing of Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) to import and export, he exports cotton, cocoa, cashew nuts, sesame seed, ginger and gum Arabic to several countries of the world. In the haulage sector, Dangote Transport provides freight services with a fleet of over 5,000 trucks under commercially competitive terms to members of the Group, to facilitate the transportation of raw materials from the sea ports to factories located inland as well as the distribution of finished goods.
In April 2014, he announced a $9 billion in financing for the construction of the largest petroleum products refinery in Africa in Nigeria; August same year, his company struck a $5-billion deal with US investors, Blackstone Group for power projects across Sub-Saharan Africa over the next five years. Dangote also announced an investment of $1billion in rice production and commercial rice farming with an aim of ensuring that rice is grown, milled and distributed within Nigeria.
In 2011, the Dangote Group as part of its strategy to further strengthen its market dominance and crash the price of cement, announced its plans to invest about $3.9billion (about N585 billion) in the construction of additional cement lines within and outside the country. It also planned to upgrade its Obajana Cement plant by constructing a new cement line with a capacity of 3.0 metric tonnes per annum as well as two additional cement lines in Ogun State with a total capacity of 6 million metric tonnes per annum. Dangote Cement, which is currently the largest quoted company in West Africa, embarked on a pan-African investment drive as part of its vision of making the continent self-sufficient in cement production.
This informed the signing of a $400 million Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (IPPA) with the Government of Zambia for the setting up of a 1.5 million metric tonnes per annum cement plant in that country in 2011. Also, part of the business expansion in 2011, plan was the intended construction of new cement lines with the capacity of 1.5 million metric tonnes per annum in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Republic of Congo and Gabon. There were also plans to construct a 3.0 million metric tonnes per annum plant in South Africa and a grinding plant in Cameroon with a capacity of 1.5 million tonnes per annum.
Aliko Dangote’s activities do not end in the business world as he is described by Ventures Africa as one of the most generous philanthropists in the world. For instance construction of roads, provision of electricity, water as well as employment opportunities, schools etc for Obajana village home to his cement plant and Gboko village home to Benue Cement Company which he acquired. One major way through which he touches the lives of Nigerians is by giving back to society through the Dangote Foundation.
Though he has given away millions to education, health and social causes of the less privileged, in 2014, he announced that he would hand over $1.2 billion of his fortune to Dangote Foundation. He has since 2014 been recognized as the richest man in Africa with a personal fortune of $25.7 billion with companies in well over 16 countries creating over 32,000 jobs. Born in Kano on April 10th 1957 to Mohammed Dangote, a business associate of the famous business tycoon, Alhassan Dantata and Hajiya Sunusi Dantata, (Alhassan’s grand-daughter), Aliko set out into the business world by understudying his uncle, Sanusi Dantata.