Dangote looks south

2013-07-07 14:00

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Nigerian businessman looks set to become a significant player in SA economy

Nigerian businessman Aliko Dangote may not be a household name in South Africa yet, but as Africa’s richest man and currently the 25th richest person on the Forbes list, he is ploughing money into the country.

Dangote, whose net worth is estimated at $16.1?billion (R163.7?billion) by Forbes, is set to become a significant player on the South African business landscape.

Last week, speaking in Soweto on the sidelines of the visit by US President Barack Obama, Dangote said that he had plans to invest

approximately R3?billion more in east and southern Africa.

He already has a significant relationship with South African consumer goods group Tiger Brands, which bought a 63% stake in Dangote Flour Mills.

Dangote played a significant role in the re-election of Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigeria’s former president, by funding his campaign.

Last month, millions of South African public servants invested their pension funds in his Nigerian-based company Dangote Industries, as the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), Africa’s largest asset manager, made up mainly of the Government Employees Pension Fund, bought a $289.3?million, or 1.5%, stake in Dangote Cement.

The deal gave the South African investor a foothold in the Dangote Group, which is worth $22?billion and makes up a third of Nigeria’s stock market value.

The deal was the second largest investment by a South African corporation in Nigeria and caused a rally in Dangote shares that lasted several days.

At the time, the PIC said it would consider looking into investing in other ventures linked to Dangote.

The Nigerian billionaire has outspoken views about South Africa’s attempt to right past economic imbalances. Last month, at a meeting convened by the trade and industry department, Dangote criticised the South African approach to empowerment.

He said: “In Nigeria, we had these laws demanding that any foreign investor had to have a Nigerian partner. But that dried up capital flow.”

He said Nigeria now allows foreign investors to partner with whomever they choose.

“If you want real economic empowerment, it has to be based on merit and increased access to capital markets,” he said.

Yet, according to a prominent empowerment adviser, he “omitted to say that access to capital and to other commercial resources in South Africa is racially skewed and make the issue of merit more complicated”.

At the trade and industry meeting, Dangote said: “If I want to invest and I am forced into a marriage with someone who does not have the same appetite as me or who does not have the equity behind them, then we have a problem.”

South Africans can expect to see more of Dangote on the social pages. He was here recently at a state banquet hosted by President Jacob Zuma in honour of Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan.

Profile

Dangote was born in 1957 into a relatively wealthy family from Kano State in northern Nigeria and showed entrepreneurial promise at a very young age.

He has a business studies degree from the Al-Azahar University in Cairo, according to Dangote.com. He started his business in 1978 trading rice, sugar

and cement.

His group, which is involved in numerous industries from cement to packing and manufacturing, operates in 14 African countries.

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