By Prudence Minayo
Aliko Dangote has been named the richest man in Africa for 9 consecutive years. As of 2021, his net worth is estimated at over $10 billion. He is the head of Dangote group, a company that deals in Cement, salt, sugar and flour manufacturing in Nigeria. It has also branched out to oil and gas as well as telecommunication. The company has also established its reach outside Nigeria and is the biggest conglomerate in West Africa.
Apart from being a businessman, he is a well known philanthropist who has donated to a number of courses. He is also a member of the board of corporate council in Africa and a part of the steering committee of the United States Secretary-General Global Education First initiative, the Clinton Global Initiative and the international business council of the World Economic Forum.
In 2009, he received honor for being the leading provider of employment in Nigeria’s construction industry. The New African magazine has named him in 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019 as one of the top 100 most influential Africans.
Aliko Dangote was born on 10th April 1957 in Kano, Northern Nigeria.
Dangote started his education at Sheikh Ali Kumasi Madrassa then proceeded to Capital High School in Kano.
He then graduated from Birni Kudu, a government college in the 1970s. After this, he went to the prestigious Muslim University in Egypt, Al-Azhar University in Cairo, where he graduated with a degree in Business Studies and administration.
Early Life & Family
The flamboyant businessman was born to Mohammed Dangote and Maria Sanusi Dantata, an upper middle class family. His grandfather Sanusi Dantata was once named the richest person in Kano having mainly made money through selling oats and rice. Spending time with his grandfather while growing up made him learn to do business from a young age. At primary school, he would buy cartons of sweets and sell them to make money.
According to Wikipedia, his great grandfather, Alhaji Alhassan Dantata, was the richest West African at the time of his death in 1955.
When Dangote was 21-years-old, he reportedly borrowed $3,000 from his uncle so that he could start the business of importing Agricultural produce from other countries and selling them in Nigeria. The business experienced immense growth and in a period of three months he was able to repay the money he borrowed from his uncle. The main things he imported included: rice from Thailand and sugar from Brazil. This was how Dangote Group grew.
In 1997, he decided to produce the stuff he had been importing for nearly two decades.
The company went from a trading company to investing in other sectors, such as, oil and gas and cement. Today, it is the 3rd largest sugar refinery in the world (producing about 800,000 tones of sugar yearly) and dominates the sugar market in Nigeria. Dangote Group is also the main supplier of soft drink companies, confectioners and breweries.
The cement subsidiary also makes for a huge part of income from the conglomerate. It produces about 45.6 million metric tons of cement annually and has operations in ten African countries. The Dangote Cement Group is said to make a quarterly income of 284.6 billion Nigerian Naira. Before the cement company was awarded to him, it had been state owned before. He expanded it and constructed a multi million plant with both his own money and a loan from International Finance Corporation.
Currently, the company also owns salt and flour factories. It also imports rice, pasta, fish, cement and fertiliser and exports cashew nuts, sesame seeds, cocoa and ginger.
The company has also expanded into telecommunication and has started building 14,000 kilometers of fibre optic cables to supply all parts of Nigeria.
Today, Dangote Group not only operates in Nigeria but also in Zambia, Togo, Ghana and Benin. It is also the biggest conglomerate in West Africa.
Philanthropy & contributions
Aliko Dangote has made the following notable contributions to various courses:
- Donated money to the Nigeria Sports Ministry to renovate the national stadium in Abuja.
- Contributed N50 million to the national mosque
- Contributed N200 million to the presidential library
- In 2014, it was reported that he had contributed N150 million to stop the spread of Ebola.
- The Dangote foundation also helps to fund issues related to education, health and economic empowerment.
- In collaboration with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, they help to fight the spread of polio.
Dangote has also been helping in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. He launched a fund to help in this cause and donated his own money to help in the fight.
- The businessman was awarded the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON) by the former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan. This is the second highest honor in the country.
- 2014: Forbes Africa Person of the Year, CNBC’s ‘Top 25 Businessmen in the world’ that changed and shaped the century and 100 Most Influential People in the World by Time magazine.
- 2013: Listed by Forbes as Most Powerful Man in Africa. He was also listed in the same category in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018, which makes it six consecutive years.
- 2015: Guardian Man of the Year.
- 2016: won the African Business Leader Award which had been organized by Africa America Institute (AAI).
He has been married twice and divorced. It is not clear whether he is married at the moment. He has three biological children, all of whom are daughters and one adopted son.
As a man in the limelight, he has not been involved in a lot of public scandals.
- His generous contributions to a number of public figures and courses has raised eyebrows. This is because with corruption on the rise, especially among the elite businessmen and politicians, people always wonder if such contributions are to further a selfish agenda. However, nothing tangible in relation to corruption has been associated with these allegations.
- As the world was on the verge of welcoming the new year, an American restauranteur claimed to have had a past romantic affair with the businessman. Leona Lewis claimed that Dangote broke her heart to 1000 pieces but she values the time with him as it taught her a lot of lessons among them: nothing lasts forever, love without strings and giving your best without expectations.