Alhaji Aliko Dangote is one man many would regard as a man of timber and caliber. With titles like MFR and GCON to his name, Aliko has achieved a great deal in his lifetime notable of which is being regarded as the world’s richest Black man.
Born on the 10th of April, 1957, Dangote is a business mogul who owns the Dangote Group, a diverse enterprise with interests in commodities. The company boasts of operations in Nigeria and several other countries in Africa, including Benin, Cameroon, Togo, Ghana, South Africa and Zambia. He is currently worth an estimated net worth of $26.3 billion USD. According to Forbes Magazine, Dangote is the 23rd richest person in the world and the richest man in Africa. He was given the name ‘Aliko, which means ‘The Victorious One Who Defends Humanity’, by his grandfather, Sanusi Dantata.
In terms of academic pursuit, the Kano born business magnate went to different schools including: Kano Capital Elementary School and Sheikh Ali Kumasi Madrasa (Arabic School in 1964, and Capital High School, Kano in the 1970s. He studied business at the Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt where he bagged a degree in Business Studies and Administration and then returned to Nigeria to take a loan from his uncle Abdulkadir Dantata, who provided him the sum of ₦500,000 (Naira, NGN) when Aliko was only 21 years old, young and looking to become an entrepreneur.
Aliko had always had a knack for making money. He once said, “I can remember when I was in primary school, I would go and buy cartons of sweets [sugar boxes] and I would start selling them just to make money. I was so interested in business, even at that time.”
The Dangote Group came into being as a small business firm in 1977 and after over 30 years, it has turned into a multi-trillion naira conglomerate with many of its operations in Benin, Ghana, Nigeria, and Togo.
Dangote has gone beyond the conventional enlarging his line of businesses to also accommodate areas like food processing, cement manufacturing, and freight. The Dangote Group is the leading brand in the Nigerian sugar market and is the major sugar supplier to the country’s soft drink companies, breweries, and confectioners. The Dangote Group has grown from a mere trading company to the largest industrial group in Nigeria and these include: Dangote Sugar Refinery, Dangote Cement, and Dangote Flour, among others.
Dangote’s sugar refinery is the largest refinery in Africa and in the world, it boasts of being the third largest accounting for about 800,000 tonnes of sugar annually. Apart from these, the Dangote Group salt factories and flour mills and is a major importer of items like rice, fish, pasta, cement and fertilizer.
The company deals in the exportation of cotton, cashew nuts, cocoa, sesame seed and ginger to several countries. It also has major investments in real estate, banking, transport, textiles and oil and gas. The company provides jobs for over 11,000 people and is rightfully the largest industrial conglomerate in the whole of West Africa.
In July 2012, Dangote made a move by proposing the idea of of leasing an abandoned piece of land at the Apapa Port to members of the Nigerian Ports Authority which was well received and adopted. He later set up facilities for his flour mills in that area.
In the 1990s he approached the Central Bank of Nigeria with the idea that it would be cheaper for the bank to allow his transport company to manage their fleet of staff buses and there was also no objection to this.
In Nigeria today, Dangote Group with its dominance in the sugar market and refinery business is the main supplier (70% of the market) to the country’s soft drinks companies, breweries and confectioners.
Dangote has delved into the realm of telecommunications and has set plans in motion to build 14,000 kilometres of fibre optic cables to cater for the whole of Nigeria. This led to Dangote being honored in January 2009 as the leading provider of employment in the Nigerian construction industry.
He said, “Let me tell you this and I want to really emphasize it…nothing is going to help Nigeria like Nigerians bringing back their money. If you give me $5 billion today, I will invest everything here in Nigeria. Let us put our heads together and work.”
In the area of politics in Nigeria, Alhaji Aliko Dangote has never been on the sidelines. In 2003, he provided a considerable amount of funds for former president, Olusegun Obasanjo’s re-election bid. to which he gave over N200 million (US$2M).
He has always been a benevolent benefactor to causes judging from his contribution of N50 million (US$0.5M) to the National Mosque under the guise of “Friends of Obasanjo and Atiku”. He also contributed N200 million to the Presidential Library. These highly controversial gifts to members of the ruling Party [PDP] have raised eyebrows despite highly publicised anti-corruption campaigns during Obasanjo’s second term regime.
In 2014, the Nigerian government revealed that Aliko Dangote had committed the whopping sum of 150 million Naira to combat the spread of the Ebola virus in Nigeria.
Dangote has three siblings from his mothers’ side: Sani, Bello and a younger brother who lost his life in an air crash in Kano with Ibrahim Abacha in 1996. His mother, Mariya, whom he named his recreational boat after is still alive. He has been married and divorced three times
His current marriage produced three beautiful children: Halima, Fatima and Sadia. In the past, he had been romantically linked with the Director and Secretary of his United Kingdom subsidiary, Dangote Global Services, Miss Oluwatosin Coker, and a sugar merchant and pastor, Rev. Chief (Mrs.) Josephine Oluwadamilola Kuteyi.
The multi-billionaire Aliko is now casting his gaze beyond commodities like cement, sugar and flour–the three commodities that served as the foundation for his business empire, to the oil business.
In April 2014, he announced that he had received $9 billion funding from a consortium of local and international lenders to construct a private oil refinery, fertilizer and petrochemical complex in Nigeria. Dangote Cement which is now publicly traded is also gaining new grounds in Africa with about $750 million invested in new plants for Kenya and Niger.