Aliko Dangote is a Nigerian business tycoon and the owner of the Dangote Group, a multinational conglomerate that specializes in cement, sugar, salt, flour, steel, oil & gas and other commodities. Born into a prominent business family, Aliko was interested in business even as a kid going to primary school, buying sweets and selling them for a handsome profit to his classmates. After his father passed away, he was raised by his grandfather who was one of the richest businessmen in Nigeria. Aliko credits his exposure to business to the time spent with his grandfather, and later, after graduating from Egypt’s Al-Azhar University with a degree in Business administration, was determined to start his own venture and make it big.
Aliko identified a demand for soft commodities in his village and was determined to create a supply. He borrowed money from his uncle and purchased rice and sugar from international distributors at wholesale prices and sold them for a handsome profit. This was Aliko Dangote’s first taste of success and enabled him to pay his uncle back within three months of borrowing. True to his business acumen, Dangote soon realized that he can produce locally what he imported and save up on import costs. This move increased his profits manifold. His decision to re-invest all the profits back into his business helped him to expand it like never before.
His company grew further to include sugar refineries, salt factories, and flour mills, gaining the distinction of having Africa’s largest sugar refinery which produces over 8, 00,000 tonnes of sugar. This foray into big business made Aliko Dangote one of Nigeria’s richest men. But what would elevate him to the status of Africa’s richest man was not commodities, but cement. When he was awarded control of a state-owned cement company, and there was no turning back. His company churns out over 44 million metric tonnes of cement annually, making it one of Africa’s largest producers. The proceeds from this were channeled into real estate, banking, textiles, oil & gas, and telecommunications. The Dangote Group has begun construction of 14,000 kilometers of fiber optic cables to provide affordable calling and internet to all of Nigeria.
However, Dangote’s current undertaking is unlike anything Africa, or even the world has ever seen. This pharaonic megaproject is an oil refinery that will process over 6, 50,000 barrels of oil a day, almost 1% of the entire planet’s production. Constructing something of this size is a herculean task, as Dangote needs to build his own port to receive the shipped components (which include a 30-story distillation tower), build roads to transport the same and construct a separate power plant to run the whole place, which would consume more than a tenth of the country entire energy requirements. Aliko Dangote wants to reduce his country’s dependency on foreign imports for refined oil.
A daring risk-taker, pioneering visionary, shrewd political operative and maverick industrialist, Aliko Dangote knows what he wants and knows how to achieve it.