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Dangote shares business secrets with foreign investors

Azubike Nnadozie

Africa’s foremost business leader, Nigeria’s Aliko Dangote has in London attributed as key to the success of his businesses his patriotic resolve to self-sufficiency in commodity manufacturing through the strategy of backward integration.

Speaking during an extraordinary candid public conversation at the Financial Times’ 4th Annual Africa Summit at Claridges in London, moderated by the Editor in chief of Times, Lionel Barber, Dangote said the strategy has worked and is working and would urged other African nations to do same to reduce the Continent’s import.

The Dangote Group’s Chief Executive reeled out statistics that compelled him to key into the strategy implemented by the Nigerian government in the presence of Nigeria’s Vice-President Professor Yemi Osinbajo, Congolese presidential hopeful Moise Katumbi, and about 300 business leaders across the world.

He stated that his ultimate ambition is to see an African nation that would stop import totally at the end.
Mastering detailed production statistics and highly-compelling demographics on promising sectors of the African economy, Dangote outlined the key to his success: self-sufficiency and backward integration, a manufacturing strategy that extracts value from entire processes.

“We are not going to import anything any longer,” he said. “In Nigeria we are learning how to produce the entire value chain.” Once a heavy importer of fertilizer, Nigeria is now gearing up to produce 3m tonnes of locally manufactured fertilizer, transforming the nation into one of the largest fertilizer exporters in Africa.

In 2007 Nigeria was the second largest importer of cement after the United States, Dangote reminded the audience of business elites. “Today, we have not only satisfied domestic needs; we have become a leading exporter of 6-7m tonnes of cement,” he added.

Diversifying into agriculture, Dangote “said he has his eyes on the dairy industry motivated by the fact that “98 percent of all milk consumed in Nigeria is imported. Same for rice.

Dangote Group has invested heavily in rice production by investing in local farmers and then offering to buy back
the one million tonnes at open market prices that they are growing. “Soon we will be able to feed not only Nigeria but the entire 320 million large West African market.”

Dangote’s business acumen was on rare exhibition as FT editor Lionel Barber himself seemed impressed with the business mogul’s quick familiarity with the nuts and bolts of his businesses.

“Are we going to continue to import everything?” Dangote asked. “Freight rates are now cheap but they will go up soon. A population of over 200M cannot continue to import basic needs on a daily basis,” he answered himself.

By 2100 Dangote stated Africa will represent 49% of the world’s population, up from 30% today. “If you don’t think big we won’t grow at all,” he said. “In Africa you have to play long-term.”

Aside from Nigeria, which African nations do you think are good growth opportunities? Barber asked Dangote. “Aside from Nigeria?” the business leader repeated and smiled. “I’d have to pick Nigeria. I am a big fan of Nigeria. We are only using 8% of our land.”

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