You probably already know that Aliko Dangote is the richest man in Africa. With a net worth of nearly $21 billion, the Nigerian businessman’s Dangote Group controls vast holdings of commodities, real estate, and telecommunications projects. Here are 17 things you didn’t know about Aliko Dangote.
While he was in primary school in the 1960s, the young Dangote would buy boxes of sweets and sell them at a profit to his fellow classmates. After studying business at the University of Cairo, he started the Dangote Group at the age of 21.
Since starting his social media account on New Year’s Eve of 2013, Dangote has amassed more than 50,000 followers. So far, his tweets have addressed malnutrition, the Davos economic conference, and entrepreneurship. No selfies, though. At least not yet.
At a recent lecture at the Lagos Business School in Nigeria, the cement magnate told his audience, “I am someone who doesn’t switch off my phone. My phone is on 24 hours.” Even more impressive: Dangote starts his workday at 5 a.m.
Despite his busy schedule, Dangote manages to squeeze in frequent jogging sessions. “Exercise is better than any medicine I can take. Exercise and sleep,” Dangote said.
Former U.S. Consul General to Nigeria, Brian Browne said Africa’s richest billionaire — Dangote — has received special treatment from Nigeria’s government in the form of exclusive import rights while high taxes or bans are imposed on competitors’ imports. Dangote denies any special treatment, saying he simply maintained friendships with elected officials.
The billionaire’s Dangote Foundation has provided more than 10 billion naira to combat poverty in Nigeria. In addition to business grants, the foundation sends cash transfers to women and children who often suffer the worst effects of poverty.
In May of 2013, Dangote announced that he would begin building the largest oil refinery in Africa. Despite being an oil-rich state, Nigeria often suffers from fuel shortages. Creating this refinery, Dangote said, will create thousands of jobs.
Dangote has walked away from not one, not two, but three plane crashes. In 1996, one of those crashes killed Dangote’s brother and Sani Abacha, son of Nigeria’s head of state.
Dangote’s great grandfather, Alhassan Dantata, was possibly the richest man in West Africa.
Despite owning holding companies all over Africa, Dangote’s primary focus is still on his Nigerian homeland. He said, “If you give me $5 billion today, I will invest everything here in Nigeria. Let us put our heads together and work.”
His company the Dangote Group has interests in commodities in countries other than Nigeria, including Benin, Cameroon, Togo, Ghana, South Africa and Zambia. Some industries his company invests in include food processing, cement manufacturing and freight.
Partly, that is. In 2012, in both an effort to help Nigeria and find a low cost property to expand his business, Dangote offered to lease an abandoned part of the Apapa Airport for part of his business.
Dangote donated $2 million to Olusegun Obasanjo’s campaign for his second bid for presidency. Obasanjo was a human rights activist, career soldier, and a candidate of the People’s Democratic Party in the first elections for presidency in the country in over 16 years, following a dictatorship.
Dangote has donated $1 million to help stop the spread of ebola. His money went towards setting up an emergency operation center in Lagos. Dangote said in an interview he believed the disease could negatively affect gross domestic product in effected areas.
Dangote’s daughter, Halima Aliko Dangote, studied marketing at the American Intercontinental University in London. After that she earned her Master of Business Administration at the Webster Business School in London.
Halima Dangote works for the Dangote Group today, formulating business strategies for the company and helping organize tasks throughout the business.
Because Dangote’s travel schedule is so hectic, including trips to China that last only five hours, he can’t always use his private jet because his pilots require more time to rest in between flights than he has time to take a break.