Aliko Dangote is the richest African according to Forbes’ African billionaire 2020 list. He has maintained this position for 9 years with his successful Dangote group of companies. He is one of four Nigerians who made it to the highly coveted list this year.
According to Time Magazine, Dangote got his start in the 1970s as an importer of common necessities such as sugar, flour, pasta and packing materials. Forbes notes that with the $500,000 loan he had gotten from his uncle, a 21-year-old Dangote began to import sugar from Brazil and rice from Thailand and sold them locally at a huge markup. He made a profit of $10,000 per day. He told them, “Things were quite good, it allowed us to create an awful lot of cash.”
In 1999, he decided to quit being the middleman and decided to start producing sugar and flour in different companies. By 2005, he had multiplied the revenues of both companies enough that he could plunk down $319 million of his own money and secure a $479 million loan led by the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation to build a cement factory.
Between 2007 to 2010, Dangote listed all three of his companies on the Nigerian stock exchange. And Dangote moved on to another crucial aspect of the Nigerian economy – oil. Time Magazine reports that he is currently building a $10.5 billion oil refinery that will be Africa’s biggest, able to produce 650,000 barrels a day. He is also getting ready for his next project, oil and gas exploration so that he can secure his own feedstock of crude for the refinery.
After he is done with the petroleum sector, Aliko Dangote intends to begin production of milk in Nigeria to reduce the 95% rate of milk importation Nigeria currently runs. His goal is to touch lives. He told Time, “With the right kind of support, we could feed the entire West African region. It’s possible. Not today, but in the next 10 years.”
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