When you look at people like Aliko Dangote, the richest black man in the planet , you will be forgiven if you think it happened overnight, he my became a billionaire just like that. But that was never the case.
In 1975 Aliko Dangote was a trader. He would go overseas, buy cement, rice pasta..the likes. He will buy it, break it down and sell it. That’s what he did for a living. Then Nigeria discovered oil. In a short time frame Nigeria began swimming in petro-dollars.
The big players in agriculture , farmers left the farm, everyone got into the oil business. Oil now dominated %90 of the economy. Suddenly the nation famous for its groundnut pyramid was having a hard time feeding 50 million Nigerians. There was hardly any food.
Aliko Dangote was one of the people going overseas, buying food, coming back, breaking it down and repackaging. So when people left farming for oil, Aliko did the opposite, he went to the farm. With less farmers, he the potential for it to be lucrative.
He went to his uncle, Dantata and asked for a loan of N1 million and promised to pay back. Back in 1975, N1 million was the equivalent of a million British Pounds. His uncle gave him the money. In less than a year Aliko had paid him back in full. And so his business grew in strenght. More pasta, more rice, then he entered into sugar. He imports sugar from Brazil, repackages and sell.
The 1970’s was the period of oil glut. Nigeria, already Africa’s richest nation embarked on building infrastructure on a scale never before seen in Africa. A new purpose-built city -Abuja was planned, Nigeria built an entire mini city – Festac Town to host the Festival of Arts and Culture, the longest bridge in Africa was being built. Aliko saw the growth potential of Nigeria in the area of construction.
Nigeria spent a fortune in the importation of cement from India, from China from Ireland. What does he do? He started importing cements, container load of cement repackages it and then started calling it Dangote Cement.
The young Aliko became a millionaire. As Nigeria’s infrastructure expanded he started getting lucrative deals. Then he decided, you know what, why import? Nigeria has huge potentials in tons and tons of limestone, why not explore our own resources. And that is exactly what he started doing.
Destination Next : OBAJANA KOGI STATE.
Kogi state had tons of limestone unexplored. Aliko literally carved out of the jungle, a large expanse of land and built a factory smack right in the middle of a jungle in KOGI state. This is where he started extracting the limestone and producing cement. He spent $600 million of his own money to build a factory in the middle of no where. Incredible !!
When the World Bank heard about it, they couldn’t believe it. They sent the President of the World Bank, Wolfenson to Nigeria to personally see this with his own eyes. Who spends $600 million of his own money to build one of the world’s largest cement factory in the middle of no where.
The World Bank was so impressed they threw him another $400 million and offered to give him more money if he needed to expand it.
Processing limestone requires a lot of power. He built his own power plant right there in the jungle to supply his own factory. There was so much power left over, he was supplying the capital Abuja, 200 kilometres away with electricity, because there was so much excess energy.
He built several other factories, the same system, limestone in the ground, factory, power generating plant, supplying whichever town us closest with the excess electricity capacity free of charge.
Aliko Dangote is the Nigerian of the century. He worked his butt off from 1975 till this day, that’s why he is worth $18 billion, with no sign of empire slowing down. He aims to supply all of Africa with cement, not just Nigeria. He has 14 plants in 15 African countries.
Dangote cement plant Obajana in Kogi State is the single largest cement factory in Africa with a capacity for 13.25 million metric tonnes per year and it’s powered by General Electric.