|Big Al with Big Bill|
Not quite Bill Gates cheddar, but with a net worth an inch shy of three billion Oprah is paid.
But are you hip to Aliko Dangote? As Africa's richest man, this Nigerian tycoon is in the same billion zip code of Bill Gates.
His business in cement and he has cemented a net worth of over 25 billion dollars.
Besides making mad dough, Dangote's major goal is to make Nigeria into a world super power.
Aliko Dangote was born in Kano, Nigeria on April 10, 1957. His family was well off. His great-grandfather had established one of Nigeria's most successful peanut farms, and the family made a sizable fortune exporting peanuts to the Europe in the early 1900s. Entrepreneurship was in Dangote's blood, and he began selling candy, for a profit, while still in elementary school. Fast-forward to today, and everything the 56-year old businessman is doing, is in service of his relentless quest to grow his wealth and the fortunes of Nigeria.
Initially, he focused on building his business presence. After graduating from Al-Azhar University in Egypt, with a degree in Business, he launched his first company, The Dangote Group, a trading company primarily dealing in cement. His family already had government connections, so he was able to secure the appropriate licenses quickly – a step that can often derail new ventures in Nigeria. Then he took his business elsewhere. He spent the next few decades working in South America, primarily Brazil. He made a major amount of money "cementing" Brazil, a country that was, and still is, on the rise. He bought multiple properties around the world, including homes in Atlanta. However, he ultimately decided to return to Nigeria, and to focus on bringing business to his home country.
In the late 90s, he returned to Nigeria, where he backed the People's Democratic Party. After the PDP won the election, he used his clout to secure an agreement to build the biggest cement factory in the world — with the stipulation that the government would limit how much cement could pass through Nigeria's ports. They agreed, and suddenly, Mr. Dangote had taken his internationally successful cement business, and turned it into the only game in town.
He spent $1 billion building the mine and an airstrip to go with it. The company opened in 2008 and was an almost instant success. He currently has 25,000 employees in Nigeria, as well as operations in 14 other countries across Africa.
Cement was only one aspect of the plan, however. Dangote has been growing The Dangote Group bit by bit for the last decade. The seemingly unflappable businessman has made a concerted effort to secure control of any resource or food that could be produced internally, instead of imported. He now runs successful food processing, manufacturing, and freight arms, controlling the Dangote Sugar Refinery, Dangote Cement, Dangote Flour, and a salt mine.
The sugar refinery has been especially successful, and 70% of the sugar used in Nigeria's beverage and candy business comes from The Dangote Group. It is the largest sugar refinery in Africa and the third largest in the world. He also controls a large portion of Nigeria's export of cocoa, sesame seeds, ginger, cotton, and cashews. In addition to his food and cement-related ventures, he has also poured money in to real estate, textiles, transport (he manages the Central Bank of Nigeria's fleet of busses, for example), and telecommunications. He is currently in the process of laying nearly 8700 miles of fiber optic cable across Nigeria.
He has created so many new jobs in Nigeria, that he has received multiple honors from Nigerian business associations and the government, including the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger presented by the President of Nigeria. It is the second highest award that can be given to a Nigerian.
How powerful and important is Aliko? Put it this way, when Bill Gates travels to Africa, he stays with Aliko Dagnote. The two are very close friends are are working on several projects to address poverty and disease in Africa. When Aliko talks, Bill listens. source