In today’s tough economic realities, when competition is fierce over scarce investment capital, it is inspiring that the Dangote Group is continually betting on the Nigerian economy by investing massively in it and other African and global markets. Established 37 years ago, the Dangote Group’s growth has been meteoric, burgeoning into a wholly-owned indigenous conglomerate with billions of dollars in investments that the country is not only benefitting immensely from, but should also be proud of.
With a loan of N500, 000 from his uncle, Sanusi Abdulkadir Dantata, gutsy Aliko Dangote, the restless spirit behind it all started the small trading company in 1977 when he was just 21 years old.
This has today blossomed into what is known as the Dangote Group with flourishing subsidiaries steadfastly involved in cement manufacturing of which he is the largest on the African continent with more than $22 billion in assets. The group is also deeply involved in sugar refining and is the major supplier of sugar to the country’s soft drinks companies, breweries and confectioneries.
Salt refining, flour milling, steel, oil and gas, textiles, rice, gum Arabic, transportation and packaging materials also form parts of the group’s areas of focus in business, with services in logistics and real estate.
The group’s factories are almost everywhere in Nigeria and beyond its shores, with strong investment presence in Benin, Cameroon, Togo, Ivory Coast, Ghana, South Africa and Zambia.
The group further has large stakes in Nigerian banks in addition to American and European property and stock markets. More inspiring is the fact that while other rich Nigerians were basking in the euphoria of their successes, the group crafted and vigorously implemented cutting-edge strategies to have a hold in all the businesses in which it has interest.
Armed with this, it tip-toed into the investment arena like a quiet predator, acquiring controlling shares in several companies including the National Salt Company (NASCON), Nigerian Textile Mills (NTM) into which the group invested $3 million worth of machinery in 1996.
Currently, Dangote Group dominates the sugar market controlling more than 70 per cent of the market. It is the largest refinery in Africa and the third largest in the world, producing 800,000 tonnes of sugar annually.
Dangote Group was recognised as the largest foreign direct investor in South Africa when Dangote Industries Limited (DIL) on October 15, 2010, formally increased its stake in Sephaku Cement (Pty) Limited based in South Africa, from 19.76 per cent to 64 per cent in a R779 million investment deal. The transaction is the largest ever foreign direct investment (FDI) by an African company in South Africa.
The emergence of the group as West Africa’s largest conglomerate group and one of the largest in Africa employing 22, 000 is commendable and should not only challenge other Nigerian companies to raise the bar of competition, but also make government see reason to further support entrepreneurial initiatives by its citizens to take root and establish their hegemony in the global market.
Dangote Group also deserves praise for daring to invest a whopping N1.5 trillion $9 billion in building a petroleum refinery in the business environment that is vehemently hobbled by insurgency and terrorism. Only recently, the group further accentuated its unwavering belief in the country with a commitment to invest N372 billion ($2 .3 billion) in the effort to rebuild the badly traumatised economy of the north.
Dangote Group’s irreversible belief in the Nigerian, and by extension, African economy has seen investments worth more than N30 billion, putting Aliko Dangote who owns about 90 per cent stakes in the group on a fast upward trajectory from his $3.3 billion net worth when he debuted on Forbes’ billionaires list in 2008 to add $21.7 billion to his fortune spurred by the amazing success of his crown jewel, the publiclyquoted Dangote Cement which has a market capitalisation of $24 billion and has operations in 15 African countries.
The capacity of the driving force of the Dangote Group to create and grow wealth in sustainable fashion should to be a big lesson which competitors and would-be entrepreneurs should carefully emulate. For Dangote, it is not all about business, profits and smiling to the bank. He also gives.
His endowment of the Dangote Foundation to the tune of N194 billion ($1.2 billion) is an eloquent testament and should be rightly recognized. Getting this far has also not been easy for the Dangote Group which, for years, has contended with primordial prejudices and distractions unleashed by competition and harsh operating environment.
Attempts to acquire the interests held by the federal government in some cement companies had been decisively resisted, for instance, and it is not unlikely that investment misadventures might have been experienced leading to colossal losses. Yet the group carries on with tenacity of purpose and single mindedness wrapped around all its businesse engagements to triumph over all odds.
Overall, Nigeria should be proud that the Dangote Group has not only given it some identity products in cement which has been improved to the 42.3 grade, but has produced Africa’s richest man and the 23rd richest on the planet. This is why we believe that the group is a positive inspiration that is praiseworthy.