The Future of Africa Largest Economy, Through the Eyes of Africa Richest Man
The 61 years old Nigeria business tycoon, largely regarded as Africa’s most prominent industrialist, presently Africa richest man, with an estimated worth of $17billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Aliko Dangote was born into an affluent family of traders from northern Nigeria, he incorporated his own business selling cement at 21, later moved into manufacturing of the building material in the 1990s, and subsequently went into the production of groceries, with the fundamental believe that his nation could meet all her nation demand for staples.
There is nearly no household in the nation that doesn’t use one or more of his products daily ranging from salts, sugar, vegetable oil, spices, noodles to mention a few.
However the billionaire wealth is largely attributed to steam from his cement plants which are the biggest in the region and expansion plans on the way, would most likely see it be among the biggest in the world.
Ask most Nigerians about Aliko Dangote and it might most probably bring a smile to their face, ask he is a very prominent figure among mainstream entertainers for his friendliness and has even been said a couple of times to step in and settle feuds between feuding celebrities.
However Dangote has no plans to stop anytime soon, with construction going on in the 6,700 acres of former swampland by the Atlantic Ocean of the southern Nigerian coast, contractors are putting the finishing touches on a fertilizer plant valued at $5 billion. Next to it, construction of a vast oil refinery—a $12 billion project—is underway.
Hoping all goes according to plan, the project would vault in between $4 billion to about $30 billion in annual revenue, estimated to be about 8 percent of the nation’s $376 billion economies.
However, industry experts such as London-based CITAC argue that those hopes would not be manifesting anytime soon, citing logistical and financial challenges. But Dangote team believe that against all odds the refinery which is the layer of both projects is on track to be completed by 2020, and would most probably release its first batch of refined crude oil same year.
Blackstone Group LP has after five years of pledging to invest $5 billion in infrastructure alongside Dangote, the smart money is in the process of exiting an African subsidiary called Black Rhino Group because of a dearth of suitable opportunities, a person familiar with the matter has said. KKR & Co. disbanded its Africa deal team in 2017.
Nigeria which has been majorly a nation that survives on importation, has seen a spin as a major exporter to its regions mostly thanks to the Dangote groups, with it cement factory been one of the major dealers in the region and the fertilizer plant, which Dangote says will come online in a few months, will be capable of producing up to 2.8 million metric tons of urea a year.
Alistair Wallace, head of fertilizing research at Argus Media in London says “It’s probably the largest-volume urea plant ever executed at one time,” adding that because Nigeria gas prices are among the lowest in the world, the fertilizer farm would most likely be profitable in the competitive export market. “It will generate hard currency and bring in dollars. It will be a good look for the administration and for Dangote.”
Dangote Industries also has four sub-companies publicly traded on the Nigeria stock exchange which amount to almost a third of all stock trade value as of December 2018.
In recent history Dangote could be compared to John D Rockefeller or Andrew Carnegie of the USA, and that not just for the amount of wealth amassed through creating industries.
Dangote groups is always under criticism from both local and internationational organizations, while some are just porous, some can be argued to be well grounded.
Critics have attacked him for holding much of his wealth offshore and say he’s a shrewd monopolist who has wrongly leveraged his political connections to secure an advantage over competitors. They claim his market-dominating cement company defrauds local consumers with prices three times the global average and influencing government policies distruct the importation of cheaper good quality cement while slashing prices in neighboring markets to crush rivals. A World Bank report published in 2016 found that African cement prices averaged $9.57 per 50-kilogram bag, compared with $3.38 globally, and the price has only gone higher since then.
Dangote’s businesses have also been accused of exploiting a government-run investment promotion program to secure generous tax breaks while influencing officials to bring policies that stifles any form of competition.
Other criticism includes, the pollution his businesses bring, and the number of accidents that are caused every day as a result of his trucks, as it’s a common sight to seen Dangote trucks abandoned after accidents, along major highroads in the country with an awful road network, and the fact that those things has never been a topic with among mainstream business analyst in the nation is even more alarming.
Dangote shrugs off such criticism, stating that “China in 30 years has taken almost 500 million people out of poverty,” through industrialization, and best market practices have been the best way to narrow the divide between the haves and have-nots.
In other news, even though most of Dangote business activities have been confined to Africa for now, the tycoon has plans of going global once his revenue tops $30 billion, he states that there’s not “capacity to be able to invest that kind of money just in Africa.”
What global investments we are expecting to see from the business tycoon is yet unknown to most of us, both we can be very much assured that he has his eyes on Arsenal football club. Dangote who is an outspoken Arsenal fan says he would be prepared to foot the cost of acquiring the multibillion-dollar English football club once his refinery is up and running, “I will go aggressively after Arsenal,” he says.