Africa’s economy set for dramatic changes
September 9, 2014 | 0 Comments
By Kingsley Ighobor*
A World Bank report last year forecast that Africa’s agribusiness could be worth $1 trillion by 2030. How do you respond to those who say that this sector doesn’t attract huge investments? The first thing I would like to say about agriculture is that we have done a very poor job until now. There is a disincentive policy that is an impediment to higher productivity in agriculture. This is particularly true if we continue to practise, from the development aid perspective, food security and poverty reduction policies as the only entry points to dealing with agriculture. Of course, I am for food security. But I do have difficulties understanding how we can pour about $1 billion into agriculture every year from development aid alone without any results. Because we still have the same yield per hectare today that we had 20 years ago. What’s the problem? The problem is that we are doing poverty reduction. We are not doing economic activity. How do we reverse that? The most important thing is to make the case for agribusiness. That’s where we are going to create modern jobs. The young people don’t want to be farmers anymore but they will be interested in modern jobs related to agriculture. It’s appalling that in Côte d’Ivoire, only 15% of consumed yoghurt is produced locally! Isn’t it a problem that the prices for some of Africa’s commodities are determined from abroad? What I am talking about here is slightly different, namely agro-business opportunities for African markets. Yes, agricultural subsidies in the West affect our soft commodities’ trade. But we still have the opportunities to do very well in agriculture with production that is oriented towards African markets, not for export. Is there enough demand internally to attract farmers and investors to agribusiness? A study done in Nigeria recently by Aliko Dangote [Nigerian billionaire businessman] found that about 80% of tomato paste was being imported from abroad. We are importing tomato paste from as far away as China! This doesn’t make any sense. There’s demand that already exists and it’s going to grow. There is a good case: one of South Africa’s largest supermarket chains, Shoprite, is expanding very aggressively in the rest of the continent. And when they went to Zambia, in their first year of operation, about 80% of their supermarket products were imported from South Africa. Five years later, they had worked deals with [Zambian] small-scale entrepreneurs to produce locally at certain standards. Between 1970 and 2008, about $800 billion vanished from Africa due to illicit financial flows. Mo Ibrahim [Sudanese philanthropist] said last year that Africa could be losing up to $40 billion annually due to tax evasion. Isn’t there a credibility problem with Africa’s private sector? Studies reveal that our private sector is extremely lazy in moving into manufacturing and industrial sectors. It correlates with the laziness of the banks to lend to this sector. Normally, they do business in the service area where they respond to internal demand; you can evade taxes and be informal more easily than if you had a factory because everybody can see the factory. So we don’t have to be distracted by the preferences of the private sector because they are responding to incentives. We should rather create the policy and regulatory incentives that will move them into industrialization. The World Bank has criticized Nigeria for banning the importation of certain goods. What’s your take on that? The World Bank is within its mandate to promote liberalization on all fronts. But all countries that have industrialized started with degrees of protectionism. We cannot practice crude protectionism anymore; we are engaged in the global debate including trade negotiations. But if we have to make the rules work for Africa, that basically means smart protectionism. Is there not an argument that without liberalization, there will be no competition and prices of products will shoot up? There are subsidies and protection rules that are counterproductive. In the case of Nigeria, fuel subsidies are hurting the poor and protecting a chain of corruption that has not been favourable to productivity and to economic activity. On the other hand, if we were talking about Nigeria with 16 refineries and producing the full gamut of oil-related products – from fertilizers to plastics – and then put in place legislation to protect that nascent industry so it can consolidate its position in the market, subsidies would have been a good thing. The Nigerian government hasn’t been able to calibrate the economic implications of a fuel subsidy with the political consequences of its removal because the subsidy is popular with the people. If people don’t trust you to remove the subsidy so that they get better education, hospitals, roads, airports and so on, it is normal that they are not convinced. The government must build trust and sometimes it has to do so in a way that is not abrupt. The Kenyan economy has slowed down lately. It grew at 4.5% in 2010 and 3.3% in 2011. What can Kenya do to shore up its economy? I am very hopeful for Kenya. There is a certain quality of urban, innovative youth interaction that you see in Nairobi. That is why their ICT industry is surprising us all the time with new products. As much as we are all very excited about the experiences of Ethiopia and Rwanda because of the consistency of state engagement in policy, I think in the long run Kenya has a better combination of factors even with some lack of coordination now. I think Kenya is going through a low phase that is very temporary. How temporary? I think a number of factors are going to propel Kenya. The first is when they fix their energy problem, and that is on the way. The second, there are logistical investments taking place that will make Kenya the hub for East Africa—airports, seaports, roads, rails. I would say in about three to four years’ time, Kenya will have a strong comeback. The third element is that this is a very fresh new government that came into power on the heels of a number of challenges internationally, including the Somalia insurgency and the ICC [International Criminal Court]. Mauritius is now a middle income country and Rwanda has one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. Where else in Africa could we expect good news in the coming years? Angola is a very good example of tremendous transformation. I have no doubt that Angola is going to be a strong economy in the future. Algeria has all the elements to have a complete revolution in terms of its economic prospects. Right now in microeconomic terms, Algeria is probably the best performer on the continent because they have an incredible amount of reserves. The problem is that it has not yet managed the mix of policies that will create jobs and entrepreneurial activities. It’s too much of a state-centred economy. How would you assess the level of commitment of African leaders to industrialization? Last year we attracted about 600 people and a number of ministers to discuss industrialization. This year we attracted 1,800 participants and about 60 ministers of finance and governors of central banks, and a plethora of African leaders. I would say that the discussion is on track. There is momentum. Discussion, but what about implementation? This was not a conference that makes implementation. You are asking about commitment. So I divide commitment in phases. First you have to have a good discussion. Which means it’s now going to translate into action at the national levels. That’s your hope? It’s already happening. We have 10 countries that have requested the ECA to assist in industrial policy strategies. Ten out of 54 countries is small but it’s a very good beginning. I am sure that soon it will be 20. Some are not asking because they can do it by themselves, like South Africa, Nigeria, and Morocco. *Source Africa Renewal
The problem is that we are doing poverty reduction. We are not doing economic activity.
Ngugi wa Thiong'o tipped for 2014 Nobel prize in literature
September 9, 2014 | 0 Comments
Odds on Kenyan author shorten from 33/1 to 10/1 led by bellwether Swedish money, according to Ladbrokes Alison Flood* A run of bets originating in Sweden has seen the odds plummet on Ngugi wa Thiong’o, the distinguished Kenyan author, winning the Nobel prize for literature next month. The chances of the recently-retired Philip Roth taking the Nobel have also fallen dramatically, according to betting firm Ladbrokes. Ladbrokes said that odds on Ngugi being named winner of the world’s most prestigious literary award, given out every October in Stockholm, had shortened from 33/1 to 10/1. “It’s always worth following the Swedish money and at this stage the one they like is Ngugi wa Thiong’o,” said spokesman for the betting firm Alex Donohue. Ngugi’s books include Caitani Mutharabaini (Devil on the Cross), a novel written on toilet paper while he was imprisoned following the performance of his play, Ngaahika Ndeenda (I Will Marry When I Want), which was critical of the inequalities of Kenyan society. He had been a favourite to take the Nobel in 2010, but that year the prize went to Mario Vargas Llosa. Tomas Tranströmer, 2010’s fourth favourite to win, went on to take the Nobel in 2011. Favourite this year, according to Ladbrokes’ odds, is Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami at 5/1,with Ngugi in joint second place with Algerian novelist Assia Djebar. Roth, who recently announced his happy retirement from the world of novel writing, comes in at 16/1, as do the feted Czech writer Milan Kundera, and the Syrian poet, Adonis. “Philip Roth appears to be this year’s ‘stalking horse’ so far as odds have fallen from 50/1 to 16/1 and at present he is the worst result in the book for us,” said Donohue. “Plenty of the bets for him have been placed in betting shops in the UK as opposed to on our website or via our mobile app which is usually where most literary betting business is done.” Roth published his final novel, Nemesis, in 2010. “I did what I did and it’s done,” he has said. “There’s more to life than writing and publishingfiction. There is another way entirely, amazed as I am to discover it at this late date.” Some fans continue to think Bob Dylan has a chance at winning the Nobel, which goes to “the most outstanding work in an ideal direction”, and which is decided by the members of the Swedish Academy. “As ever, there are people who think it could be Bob Dylan’s year, but we’ll never know if they are simply hopeful fans. There are two bets for Bob, both at 50/1 from Swedish customers,” said Donohue. Ladbrokes opened its book on the 2014 Nobel prize for literature minutes after Alice Munro was announced as last year’s winner, cited by judges as the “master of the contemporary short story”. “We’ve been taking bets for this year from the day of the announcement last year,” said Donohue. The date of the prize’s announcement has not yet been revealed, but it isusually in early to mid-October. *Source theguardian]]>
A Nigerian king and his many wives dazzle London
September 9, 2014 | 2 Comments
One of the trending pieces of news in Nigeria this past weekend was the United Kingdom trip of one of the more prominent Nigerian kings, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi, and his four wives[caption id="attachment_11846" align="alignleft" width="760"] The Alaafin and his Oloris shopping in London. Photo: Naijapals.com[/caption]
The Nigerian king and his wives (all dressed in matching outfits) were the objects of attention as soon as they stepped into the departure hall of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport Lagos and that opened the floodgates to comments from Nigeria’s active social media.
While many people concentrated on the negative aspects of the polygamous marriage that was on display, some others celebrated a king and queens in tune with their culture, and yet some others focused on the complexion and age of the oloris (queens): did they bleach their skins? How come they are so young? Isn’t the youngest olori too young to be married to an old man, even though he is a king?[caption id="attachment_11849" align="alignleft" width="760"] The king and his queens visit Buckingham. Photo: Naijapals.cm[/caption]
The criticism did come pouring in, but so did the praises.
In this age of everything Western and modern, it is expected that people will call a polygamous king medieval. Still, the same people will celebrate a rapper with several baby mamas for being ‘modern’. But truth be told, medieval or not, the king is living the fantasy of most hot-blooded men.[caption id="attachment_11851" align="alignleft" width="760"] Subjects pay homage to the king. To the far left is Nigerian musician Alariwo. Photo: Naijapals.com[/caption]
Yep, and the king and his wives wrapped London in Aso Ebi.
Omotola Speaks About Her Life And Character
September 8, 2014 | 0 Comments
One of the most successful and recognized by critics Nigerian actresses Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde in a recent interview spoke about her career, marriage and many other spicy details of her life.
The 36-year-old start has been recently confirmed Nigeria’s most popular female entertainer on the internet, with the highest number of social media followers on Twitter and Facebook, Nigeriafilms recalls. Omosexy, as she is gently referred to by her fans, has achieved a lot not only in her professional, but also in private life. The happy wife has managed to keep the wonderful shape despite having delivered 4 (!) children.
When asked about how she had been able to keep fit, the actress said: “First and foremost, I use the power of the tongue. I look at the mirror and say to myself ‘You are slim; you are losing weight in all the right places.’ It’s funny, right? But then, also, I try to eat healthy, and I’m very active. I have just started working out with a trainer, but prior to that I just stay active.”
Omotola got married in 1996 but has never become the casual-clothes woman. She keeps wearing tight and elegant dresses proving over and over again that she is not just Omo, but OmoSEXY. When asked about her style of clothing, whether her husband is satisfied with it, she said:
“My husband is extremely in support. I can’t even wear some clothes my husband approves of. People would think I’m crazy, they would read meaning into our relationship. He is a very enlightened person and someone who believes in his heart. Even with our kids, he trusts them so much.”
And the actress eagerly continued with praising her second half for being a gentle, supportive and understanding man:
And the actress eagerly continued with praising her second half for being a gentle, supportive and understanding man:
“I bless God, it’s been wonderful. God has been very good and I give the glory to Him. And secondly, I’d give credit to my husband. Because, I think I’m the difficult one, because of the demands of my career and because I’m the woman. But he’s been extremely supportive.”
Although Omotola’s working schedule is even tighter that her dresses, she still dedicates every free minute of her life to the family and to the upbringing of her children. The actress however confesses she is a strict kind of parent.
“I am a very hands-on Mum. My kids would tell you I’m extremely strict also, because I was trained by a very strict Mum. My Mum was an Egba woman; she used to sit on me. When they say I’m very strict, I say ‘You’re lucky I don’t sit on you.’ I use most of the doctrines in the Bible; I’m always in their business.”
This statement can be proved by the incident which happened this year, when the photos of Omotola’s daughter went viral. The actress attacked media over describing her 14-year-old daughter’s as “hot” and “sexy”.
Speaking about her children, Omotola recalled the times when she was still a child narrated how the loss of father at the age of 12 affected her life:
“I was extremely close to him and it really affected me because, for a long time I was thinking I would die, too. I felt so much grief and it was a lot of strain on my mother because she had three kids to cater for and didn’t want our standard of living to drop. I wanted to help her, so after I left secondary school I started modelling.”
The actress also revealed the peculiarities of her character and explained why some people might allege she is snobbish:
“I guess I have this demeanour that makes me look like I’m in my own zone. People just assume that I’m a snob. Sometimes I really could enter into my own zone, and it depends on where I am. If I’m in a place where the air is too stiff for me, I just become very quiet. But if I get to a place and feel the vibe and it’s free and fun, you are virtually going to beg me to sit in one place. I’m too extreme; I can be overly bubbly and overly quiet. I’m never really in the middle and I can’t pretend.”
The interview concluded with the correspondent asking whether Omo feels threatened by the upcoming beautiful and talented actresses, to which she responded:
“I’m not the most intelligent, I’m not the best actress either, and I don’t think I have the best attitude, but I always ask God for His grace. There are new challenges everyday and I ask God to teach me. You have to always remember there is nothing special about you, it’s just His grace. What you think you have somebody else probably even have double. There are younger, new, hotter, more aggressive people around now. I just try to be myself, work hard, and rely on what can take me far.”
First Lady Djènè Condé Beams Spotlight on Social Issues In Guinea
August 9, 2014 | 0 Comments
Guinea first Lady Djènè Kaba Condé has described her participation at the USA-Africa Leaders’ Summit as a success as it offered her a platform to beam the spotlight on social issues in her country. While President Conde and other members of the delegation were busy on the economic front presenting Guinea to investors, the First Lady was very active in articulating social issues, notably at the forum animated by American First Lady Michelle Obama and former First Lady Laura Bush. The forum with other first Ladies offered her the opportunity to build networks that will facilitate future contacts needed to resolve some of the challenges faced by women in her country. In an interview with Pan African Visions, the First Lady said, she used her presence at the summit to talk about infant mortality, maternal health, female genital mutilation, hygiene and sanitation and efforts to improve educational needs of young girls . With the Ebola virus dominating news from Guinea, the First Lady said the government reacted swiftly with measures to mitigate its spread to unaffected areas.She lauded the efforts of Guinean Doctors and medical personnel who were working round the clock and indicated that her Foundation was also very active on the sanitary aspects that could help keep the virus in check . The resurgence of the virus was unfortunate, but Djènè Conde expressed confidence that, efforts to contain its spread will pay off. With Guinea out of international isolation, many changes are taking place in the country with women taking the lead in the civil society and business sectors, she said. With about six female Ministers appointed to the government by President Conde, , the First Lady saw in this a recognition of the role that women have to play in the emerging Guinea .Using the Conde Djènè Kaba Foundation for the promotion of infant and maternal health, the first Lady has been at the fore front of the fight against social stigmas like early marriages, female genital mutilation, and others which have kept women in Guinea from living up to their potential. https://soundcloud.com/multimedia-podcast/interview-first-lady-of-guinea-djene-kaba-conde With a Master’s Degree in Communication, Djènè Condé understands the importance of education and has used her Foundation to facilitate the integration of women and the disfavored in the community. In contribution to efforts to keep the capital city Conakry clean, Kaba Condé talked of the contest for the cleanest schools and educating young people on basic sanitation. In response to a question on what the diaspora, which turned out en masse to welcome her could contribute towards her social work and development in Guinea, Djènè Conde tasked them with continued patriotism .Guinea needs their expertise and contribution towards socio-economic development, the first lady said. Acknowledging that the salary gap remains an issue, Djènè Conde said patriotism should keep Guineans connected to their roots and join hands in moving the country forward. On the cultural differences, the first Lady said there were facets of American life that could be beneficial to her people and she was not personally opposed to any thing that could add value and help to move Guinea forward. The First Lady and President of Conde were in Washington at the invitation of President Obama for the USA –Africa Leaders’ Summit. The Condes were part of the state dinner offered by the Obamas at the White House. With the Conde Djènè Kaba Foundation for the promotion of infant and maternal health, the first Lady has been very active on issues of health, peace, education and the environment. Significant achievement have been made by the Foundation despite its limited resources. Several hygiene and Sanitation campaigns have taken place in Conakry and other big cities. Medication and material have been donated to be many hospitals, didactic material shared to schools, wheel chairs donated to handicapped children, and an ambulance put at the service of pregnant women at the hospital in Kankan. To more about the Conde Djènè Kaba Foundation for the promotion of infant and maternal health click here ]]>
ADEBAYO OGUNLESI: OWNER OF GATWICK AIRPORT
July 4, 2014 | 0 Comments
A Nigerian, Adebayo Ogunlesi, has acquired the London Gatwick Airport as the new owner. The Gatwick deal is a £1.455 billion agreement with BAA Airports Limited. Adebayo Ogunlesi, 56, is the chairman and managing partner, Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), an independent investment fund based in New York City with worldwide stake in infrastructure assets,is the new owner of the London Gatwick Airport. Ogunlesi attended the prestigious King’s College, Lagos. He is a member of the District of Columbia Bar Association. He was a lecturer at Harvard Law School and the Yale School. Ogunlesi, whose father was the first Nigerian-born medical professor, studied philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford and then earned law and business degrees from Harvard. Ogunlesi has lived in New York for 20 years and is active in volunteer work. But he also cultivates his ties to Africa. He informally advises the Nigerian government on privatisation. And last summer Manute Bol, former NBA center, visited Ogunlesi in his Park Avenue office, seeking donations for a charitable foundation in former basketball star Manute Bol’s homeland, Sudan. Ogunlesi walked Bol around the hallways, introducing him to junior staff. It was just another day in the Bayosphere. Prior to his current role, he was executive vice chairman and chief client officer of Credit Suisse, based in New York. He previously served as a member of Credit Suisse’s Executive Board and Management Council and chaired the Chairman’s Board. Previously, he was the Global Head of Investment Banking at Credit Suisse. Since joining Credit Suisse in 1983, Ogunlesi has advised clients on strategic transactions and financings in a broad range of industries and has worked on transactions in North and South America, the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKixx2c-2BU In the US, he is known as the Nigerian who clerked for late Supreme Court justice, Thurgood Marshall, who they say was unable to pronounce his name and quickly dubbed him Obeedoogee. Colleagues and friends call him Bayo. *africancelebs]]>
Living the dream: How Ashish Thakkar became Africa’s youngest billionaire
July 2, 2014 | 0 Comments
BY Lillian Kiarie*
Aliko Dangote: A lesson for African entrepreneurs
March 23, 2014 | 1 Comments
“I built a conglomerate and emerged the richest black man in the world in 2008 but it didn’t happen overnight. It took me 30 years to get to where I am today. Youths of today aspire to be like me but they want to achieve it overnight. It’s not going to work. To build a successful business, you must start small and dream big. In the journey of entrepreneurship, tenacity of purpose is supreme.” – Aliko Dangote
Alhaji Aliko Dangote represents what African businessmen should be. He is an example for aspiring entrepreneurs across the continent. Start small, aim very high, identify and take advantage of opportunities. Do not be discouraged by challenges. Give, and give generously to help others make progress.
That was how Aliko Dangote, who started out as a trader of commodities, became Africa’s leading businessman, with companies in 16 countries, employing over 10,000 people. In the process, he became the richest African and black man on the planet, with a personal fortune of $25 billion. It is this feat that makes him eminently qualified, and deservingly recognised as the Vanguard Newspaper African Personality of the Year.
Born with the Midas touch
When on 10th of April 1957, a male child was born in Kano; little was heard or known of the child. Like Shakespeare wrote in one of his epic books, Julius Caesar, ‘when beggars die there are no comets seen but the heavens themselves blaze the death of Princes’. In some dynasties and royalties, when kings are born, they are celebrated.
hat was not the case in Kano when Aliko Dangote was born. He was just like any other child. He, like other children, learnt to crawl, walk and run. He cried like others but at school, he was focused on what he chose to do.
He probably discovered his destiny early enough and keyed into it. In his words: “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.” Dangote, right from when he was young had his eyes on business.
He had always, as all real entrepreneurs do, seen opportunities where others see high risk and failure. In an atmosphere of difficulty, when others would have given up, he took the risk. He is known for taking great risks in a highly risky environment.
He has grown to have a Midas touch in every business he ventured into. He started as a commodity trader, he made success of it, he entered into sugar refining, and he made success of it. He set up cement manufacturing; he has made a huge success of it.
Now he is venturing into petroleum product refining. His hard work has set him apart to the envy of his detractors who only see him as a beneficiary of government waiver and concession. But there are others who have had the same benefit but could not make anything tangible from it.
That has brought success to him, his family, state and his country. He has invested in the various sectors of the Nigerian economy and across the African continent thus creating millions of direct and indirect jobs in the continent of Africa. He has become a business colossus that bestrides the global business environment, making him the richest African today.
Undeterred by Risks & Uncertainties
In one of the articles written by Jonathan Berman in Harvard Business review entitled; American CEOs should Stop Complaining about Uncertainty, he wrote how uncertainty has not deterred Aliko Dangote from investing in Nigeria and across Africa. In the write-up, Barman said: “This month, the chief executive officers of America’s biggest companies went on a media blitz to decry the uncertainty caused by the fiscal cliff. In such uncertain times, they say, they are hesitant to invest in the US economy.
I departed Washington in the midst of these rumblings to attend a forum of Africa’s leading CEOs. Here’s a quick sample of the scheduled participants: Aliko Dangote, CEO of Dangote Cement. He’s building a $2 billion fertilizer plant in his native Nigeria. He recently announced the next two growth markets for sizeable investment by his group are Iraq and Myanmar.
“For Dangote and many other executives in frontier markets, uncertainty is not the inhibitor of opportunity. It is the condition in which opportunity arises. That is a reasonable perspective to look for in American CEOs as well.” The moving force behind private enterprise all over the world is what Adam Smith described as the invisible hand that allocates resources in the most uncertain environment.
It is real entrepreneurs that see opportunity in very risky areas, yet go in there with the hope of making profit. Business is about taking risk and any local entrepreneur that is not ready to take risk is not a genuine businessman. Dangote saw opportunities in the very uncertain and tough business environment in Nigeria. From trading in rice, sugar and other commodities, he veered into manufacturing in an environment many foreign and local investors see as very risky.
Alhaji Aliko Dangote’s business empire is estimated at a net worth of $20.8 billion as of November 2013 spanning interests in commodities with operations in Nigeria and several other countries in Africa , including Benin, Cameroon, Togo , Ghana, South Africa and Zambia. Dangote in 2013 was ranked by Forbes Magazine as the 43rd richest person in the world and the richest man in Africa based on his investment and the listing of his companies’ interest at the Nigerian Stock Exchange. Taking some of his companies to the exchange has given other Nigerians opportunities to share in his success and has shown that he operates his companies in an open manner.
Alhaji Aliko Dangote, a northerner, precisely from Kano State, Nigeria, was born on the 10th of April 1957 into a wealthy Muslim family. He studied Business at the Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt and thereafter returned to Nigeria to borrow from his uncle, Sanusi Abdulkadir Dantata. The uncle (Dantata) eventually gave him a loan of N500,000 when he was just 21 years old to start his own business.
The Dangote Group which started as a small trading firm was established in the year 1977. Today, it is a multi-trillion naira conglomerate with many of its operations in Benin, Ghana , Nigeria, and Togo. At present, Dangote has enlarged his line of businesses to also cover food processing, cement manufacturing and freight. The Dangote Group also dominates the sugar and cement markets in Nigeria and is a major sugar supplier to Nigeria’s soft drink companies, breweries , and confectioners.
The Dangote Group has also moved from being a trading company to being the largest industrial group in Nigeria and the group includes: Dangote Sugar Refinery, Dangote Cement and Dangote Flour just to mention but a few. He plans to set up the largest petroleum product refinning facility in Nigeria.
In the month of July 2012, he approached the Nigerian Ports Authority with the idea of leasing an abandoned piece of land at the Apapa Port, which was welcomed and approved. He later went to build facilities for his flour company there. In the 90’s, he approached the Central Bank of Nigeria with a proposal that it would be cheaper for the bank to allow his transport company manage their fleet of staff buses which was also approved.
He owns the Obajana Cement plant which is the largest cement manufacturing facility in Africa. Apart from these, Dangote Group owns salt factories and flour mills and also a major importer of rice, fish, pasta and fertilizer. The company exports 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 employs over 11,000 people and is the largest industrial conglomerate in the whole of West Africa. Dangote is also exploring the telecommunications sector and has started building 14,000 kilometres of fibre optic cables to supply the whole of Nigeria and as a result, he was honoured in January 2009 as the leading provider of employment in the Nigerian construction industry.
Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, continues to expand his publicly traded Dangote Cement across the continent, announcing plans to build new plants in Kenya and Niger. With operations in about eight countries, it is the largest cement manufacturer in sub-Sahara Africa.
In May 2013, Dangote said he would build a $9 billion oil refinery and petrochemical complex in Nigeria. When completed, it will be Nigeria’s first and Africa’s largest petroleum refinery.
His words; “As an investor who believes in Nigeria, knows Nigeria well and whose prosperity was made in Nigeria, we have responded to the challenge with our decision to invest $ 9 billion in a refinery/petrochemical and fertilizer complex to be located at the OKLNG Free Trade Zone. This complex will be the largest industrial complex project ever in the history of our great nation.
On the 14th of November, 2011, Dangote was awarded a National Honour, Nigeria’s second highest honour, Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON ) by the President of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan .
Apart from his business acumen, he is also a philanthropist who has collaborated with American billionaire, Bill Gates Foundation to invest in the provision of health especially the eradication of polio in Africa and other parts of the world where the disease is still prevalent.
The DANGOTE Group consists of:
Dangote Cement Plc
Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc
Dangote Flour Mills Plc
Dangote Pasta Plant Limited
Dangote Agro Sacks Limited
Prayer Mats Production
Dangote Salt Plc
Dangote Foods Limited
Oil Refinery, Petrochemicals and Fertilisers
The Philanthropic side of Dangote
To underscore his belief in giving back to the society, Aliko Dangote, through his Dangote Foundation, has over the years committed a lot of his resources into philanthropic activities.
The Dangote Foundation which was set up in 1994 is the Corporate Social Responsibility arm of Dangote Group. The Foundation intervenes in the areas of health, education and empowerment. The Foundation is also involved in providing humanitarian aid to victims of natural disasters. It has contributed over $100 million (about N16 billion) in charitable funds to several causes in Nigeria and Africa over the past four years.
Dangote recently announced plans to endow the Foundation with N200 billion ($1.25 billion). He said the endowment would come from personal contributions as well as shares of his publicly quoted companies, which would be transferred to the Foundation for onward disbursement to beneficiaries. He added that this will ensure that the Foundation has secure and steady funding to carry out its mission as we significantly scale up our work.
Board of Trustees of the Foundation include Dangote as Chairman; his brother, Sani; his daughter, Halima Aliko Dangote; Chief Operating Officer, Dangote Industries Limited, Olakunle Alake; A.B Mahmoud (SAN); former Group Managing Director/CEO, Access Bank Plc, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede; wife of the former Ekiti State Governor, Angela Adebayo; wife of the former Managing Director/CEO Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, Hajara Adeola; and Group Chief Executive Officer, Renaissance Capital West Africa, Mrs. Yvonne Ike-Fasinro.
SOME OF DANGOTE’S CSR INTERVENTIONS:
$500,000 to boost UNICEF’s fight against measles
The Dangote Foundation contributed $500,000 (N79.15 million) through the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to support the Federal Government’s response to recent measles outbreak that affected many states in Nigeria. The donation was announced on April 12, 2013 in Lagos during a visit to the office of the Chairman of Dangote Foundation, Aliko Dangote, by a delegation of the UNICEF led by the Country Representative, Ms. Jean Gough. Gough lauded Dangote Foundation saying: “Public-Private sector interventions such as these in the health sector and other sectors such as water and early childhood development are the way forward for Nigeria to improve the well-being of Nigerian children.” The grant is a major contribution to government’s fight against measles which is among the leading causes of child deaths in Nigeria, especially in areas where immunization coverage is low.
The grant from Dangote Foundation, Ms. Gough pointed out, will support the measles campaign of the government through its Ministry of Health and the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA). Dangote said the issue of health and safe living was a core responsibility in the discharge of the corporate social responsibility of the Foundation pointing out that “we have a common synergy with UNICEF in the areas of health, education and nutrition and we hope that our efforts will encourage more private sector operators to engage with ongoing efforts to improve the well-being of Nigerians.”
$6.4m to International Cancer Centre Abuja (ICCA)
Dangote Foundation made a donation of $6.4 million towards building a world class International Cancer Centre in Abuja, in 2009. The donation is to strengthen the fight against the disease. The International Cancer Centre Abuja (ICCA) was initiated by Dr. Hajiya Turai Umaru Yar’Adua, former First Lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as a non- governmental humanitarian project devoted to training, research and diagnosis of various forms of cancer. It is intended to be a one-stop centre, providing a comprehensive range of high quality, holistic and cost effective treatment for cancer patients in sub-Saharan Africa. The centre will actively engage in research geared towards prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Education and public awareness programmes will be employed as tools for cancer control and prevention.
Donates dialysis machines to Lagos General Hospital
Dangote Foundation, in collaboration with the Rotary Club of Victoria Island, donated two dialysis machines to the Dialysis Centre of the Lagos General Hospital, Marina, in April 2010, to facilitate treatment of patients with acute and chronic kidney disease. In addition, the Foundation provides all the consumables used for the treatment. This has drastically reduced the treatment charges on the patients. “The machines have been of utmost importance and inestimable benefits to the patients who come from far and near to receive medical support. The machines have been very useful serving both the acute and chronic kidney patients.” – Dr. Sade Soyinka, Dialysis Centre at Lagos General Hospital, Marina, Lagos
$ 2.6m to flood victims & women in Kogi
President/Chief Executive, Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, on October 5, 2012, announced a donation of $2.6 million (N430 million) to victims of the flood disaster and for women empowerment in Kogi State. At a ceremony attended by top government functionaries in the state capital, Lokoja, Dangote said the contribution which is given through his Dangote Foundation is meant to complement the efforts of the government in providing relief materials to the victims and in resettling them as soon as possible. Dangote who gave out $312,500 (N50 million) worth of foodstuff and relief materials, and $937,000 (N150 million) in cash, also said $1.4 million (N230 million) would be distributed to 1,000 women in each of the 21 local government areas of the state to boost economic activities.
In his speech entitled: Lending a Helping Hand,” Dangote said, he was touched by the pain the victims were passing through, noting that the flood has led to loss of lives and property and may cause outbreak of epidemic. “Obviously, the government alone cannot shoulder this onerous responsibility of bringing relief to the victims,” he said.
Partners Bank of Industry (BOI) to boost job creation
Dangote Foundation and the Bank of Industry (BOI) signed a partnership deal that will create direct employment for one million Nigerians over the next few years, on March 7, 201 1 in Lagos.
The partners announced the funds release of $32 million in the first tranche, which is expected to grow up to $128 million eventually.
Dangote Foundation committed $16 million to the fund, while BOI also contributed a matching fund of $16 million, thus creating a total fund of $32 million to launch the fund. The fund would be used for lending to groups in the informal sector of the economy, as take off or working capital to support their businesses.
The Dangote component of the fund attracts zero interest, while that of BOI is 5 per cent. This is expected to impact directly on up to 13,000 registered groups in the entire country, each with an average of 20 entrepreneurs, thus impacting the lives of up to 250,000 micro-entrepreneurs, through job creation, spreading across all six geopolitical zones in Nigeria. The project is first of its kind in the country.
Some beneficiaries of the Dangote/BOI partnership:
Ken Baxton Limited: Secured about N19 million ($118,012) loan from Dangote/BOI intervention fund at five per cent interest rate.
Stallion (Ikeja) Cooperative Multi-purpose Society Ltd: Secured a N4.8 million ($29,813) loan under the Dangote/ BOI Fund with just 5 per cent interest rate.
Afriks Vegetable Oil Multi-purpose Cooperative Society, Kano State: Secured a N5.1 million ($31,677) Dangote/BOI loan which has enabled it to expand its operations.
Kudenda Thure Multi-purpose Cooperative Society: Secured N5.25 million ($32,609) loan which has enabled it to employ more hands to run two production shifts.
Geese (Ikeja) Cooperative Society Limited: Secured N7.5 million ($46,584) loan at 5 per cent interest.
Wahabiyya Vegetable Oil and Cold Room: Secured N5.28 million ($32,795) loans under the Dangote/ BOI Fund*Source Vanguard Nigeria]]>
Lupita Nyong’o: The Kenyan star who stunned Hollywood
March 3, 2014 | 0 Comments
Lupita Nyong’o accepts her Oscar. (Pic: AFP)[/caption] Lupita Nyong’o, winner of the best supporting actress Oscar on Sunday, stunned Hollywood in her big-screen debut with her searing turn as an abused servant in 12 Years A Slave. The Kenyan actress and Yale School of Drama graduate, who turned 31 on Saturday, has risen in a year from relative obscurity to Hollywood’s A list, winning plaudits for both her efforts on screen and her impeccable fashion sense. Nyong’o has already picked up the Screen Actors Guild and Critics’ Choice awards for best supporting actress for her turn as Patsey, a slave brutalised by her sadistic owner, played by Michael Fassbender. “It doesn’t escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is thanks to so much pain in someone else’s,” a tearful Nyong’o said Sunday upon accepting her award, after receiving a standing ovation from the audience. “When I look down at this golden statue, may it remind me and every little child that no matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid.” Unusual career choice Born in Mexico – the source of her Spanish name, and where her father was teaching political science at university – Nyong’o grew up in Kenya as the second of six children. Acting is hardly a common career in Kenya for the child of a powerful politician, but her father, one-timehealth minister Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o, said the family had always supported her dreams. “She started acting very young, right from kindergarten, and even at home with just the family, she would come up with make-believe stories and perform them for us,” he told Kenya’s East African newspaper. “She was always imaginative and creative.” The career of Nyong’o – who now lives in the United States after studying at Hampshire College in Massachusetts and later at Yale – has been avidly followed by the media in her home nation, who remember her first major role on a television show. She was inspired to follow an acting career after working as a production assistant on the 2005 drama “The Constant Gardener.” Actor Ralph Fiennes then told her only to get into acting if she couldn’t live without it. “It’s not what I wanted to hear, but it’s what I needed to hear,” she told Arise Entertainment in a recent interview. First time lucky She struck gold with her first major role in 12 Years a Slave – a role she says she almost did not get because director Steve McQueen thought she “might be too pretty.” Critics have hailed her turn in Patsey, which included some very difficult scenes, including one in which she is viciously whipped while tied to a pole. “Acting is an exercise of deep trust in yourself and an exercise in letting go: Do [all of your preparation] and then trust that when the [filming] day comes, and you’re in the room with Michael Fassbender, what you need will come through,” she told Entertainment Weekly. Nyong’o – who is now appearing in the thriller Non-Stop, starring Liam Neeson – faced many challenges at the start of her career. “She told me there were already actors and actresses in the US, and the odds were against her. Her dark skin tone, her short hair, her Kenyan accent, her name,” recalls Kenyan actor Antony Mwangi, who worked with her in Nairobi. Ahead of her triumph on Sunday night, Nyong’o said she hoped to inspire a new generation of black actresses. “In many ways, me being on the scene is doing for little girls everywhere what Oprah Winfrey and Whoopi Goldberg did for me,” she told Entertainment Weekly. “My world exploded by them being on screen. Hopefully I will inspire and be meaningful to other people. But I can’t take on other people’s dreams for me. I can only dream for myself.” *Source AFP]]>
Tony Elumelu: The ‘Africapitalist’ who wants to power Africa
November 17, 2013 | 4 Comments
By Earl Nurse and Jill Dougherty*
It’s the term created by Nigerian entrepreneur Tony Elumelu, one of Africa’s most successful businessmen, to describe what he believes holds the key to the continent’s future well-being.
According to Elumelu, Africapitalism is the economic philosophy “that the African private sector has the power to transform the continent through long-term investments, creating both economic prosperity and social wealth.”
Elumelu champions the idea that long-term focus on key sectors such as infrastructure and power does not only offer high returns but, in the process, can also help Africa deal with pressing problems such as unemployment and food security.
“The information people have about Africa in America and the western world is one of aid, one of squalor, one of poverty, one of religious crisis,” says Elumelu, who first found success after turning a struggling Nigerian bank into a global financial institution. “They need to begin to see that Africa is a continent of economic opportunities — a lot of potential and the returns on investment in Africa is huge.”
Backing his words with actions, Elumelu, the former chief executive of the United Bank for Africa, who went on to create investment company Heirs Holdings in 2010, has pledged $2.5 billion to U.S. President Barack Obama’s“Power Africa” initiative — a campaign aiming to double access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa.
CNN’s African Voices spoke to Elumelu about Africapitalism, doing business in Africa and his goals for the future. An excerpt of the interview follows.
CNN: What is Africapitalism and how does it work?
Tony Elumelu: From interacting with customers, with communities, with local governments, state governments and national governments, I started to see a pattern that indeed we can as a private sector help to develop Africa in a manner that’s truly sustainable. I also, as a good student of economic history, have observed the development of the African continent and come to realize that despite all the aid inflows into Africa and despite our sovereign government commitment to develop in the continent, not much was achieved.
But … if we can mobilize the African private sector and non-African private sector operating in Africa to think long-term, to invest long-term in Africa in key sectors, then we might end up creating economic wealth, economic prosperity and social wealth. That is Africapitalism.
CNN: Which areas does the private sector in Africa focus on?
TE: The private sector in Africa was largely dependent on government patronage, government contracts. But today, it has changed significantly. You have the private sector in Africa today that is adding real value to the economy through engagements in payment systems; through engagement in key infrastructure projects; through engagement in manufacturing and processing of raw materials in Africa and exporting this within the continent.
So it’s a significant shift from where the private sector was before to where it is today and we’re beginning to see a new crop of private sector people in Africa who believe under the sun that they have a role to play in the development of the continent.
CNN: Why did Heirs Holding decided to commit $2.5 billion to the “Power Africa” initiative?
TE: Because we understand as Africapitalists the importance of power, access to electricity, in unleashing the economic potential of Africa. Because of that, we felt since we preach that the private sector should do long-term investment in Africa in key sectors, there is no sector at this point in time to us that is as strategic as power sector in dealing with the issue of economic empowerment, democratization of economic prosperity across the continent than power.
CNN: Looking ahead, what do you think is going to be the most important source of power?
TE: Africa is coming from a deficit position — only 20% of 1.2 billion people have access to electricity. So we need to think of the kind of projects that will help us create the quantum leap we need in power. And I think that that is what should guide the options that we take.
So for me, I believe that we need five years of sustained, massive billion dollar investments (in the) power sector in Africa before we come to the level where we need to discriminate, is it this kind of power or that type of power? But let there be light first in Africa.
CNN: What are your goals for the future?
TE: My goals for the future are twofold — one is personal and two is about the continent. For my personal goal I would like to continue to impact my team. Because you get to a certain level where you wake up in the morning not necessarily because you want to earn a living — you wake up in the morning I think about impact, about legacies, what impact am I going to leave behind?
And so I decide to look at the African continent and I tell myself this is a continent that is about to explode but lacks certain vital ingredients. And so what role can I play in making sure that some of those challenges are addressed in my lifetime, so that my children will not as a kind of question I asked of my parents and grandparents, where were they when the war started?
So that’s important to me. And that is why we invest in power. Not just because I want to make more money, which is good, but because we touch lives significantly making that money.