How Dangote Makes His Billions Around Africa

Dangote ranks as the wealthiest black person in the world. How did he make his billions around Africa? A look into the industries that made him.
Dangote ranks as the wealthiest black person in the world. How did he make his billions around Africa? A look into the industries that made him.

Africa is a vast continent with a population of over 1.4 billion people. It is home to some of the world’s most valuable natural resources. Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man (and the richest black person worldwide), has built his fortune by tapping into these resources. He is President and chairman of the Dangote Group, a conglomerate with interests in over 18 subsidiaries, including cement, sugar, flour, salt, fertilizer, oil, and gas.

Dangote was born in Nigeria in 1957. He comes from a wealthy family, as his grandfather was a successful trader. Dangote started as a trader at an early age, selling fast-moving candy for profit. He soon began importing commodities into Nigeria and other countries.

According to Forbes’ list, Dangote is now worth an estimated $14 billion, ranked 130 on the list as of June 2022. He plans to expand his business empire further and is currently building a $10 billion oil refinery in Nigeria. 

When completed, it will be the largest oil refinery in Africa. Most of the entrepreneur’s wealth comes from his 85.2 percent controlling stake in Dangote Cement, the continent’s biggest cement manufacturer.

Businesses Contributing to Dangote’s Wealth

Some of the industries contributing to the entrepreneur’s success are discussed below.

Cement Manufacturing

The Dangote Group is the largest cement producer in the world, with a significant presence in over 10 African countries. The company produces around 49 million metric tons of cement annually (MTA).

Dangote Cement’s 65% market share in Nigeria gives it the power to set commodity prices throughout the nation. And it has leveraged this power to earn significant profits — the gross margin on its cement was around 70% a few years back but had since fallen to just under 50% in 2016. In 2015, global cement profit (EBITDA) margins were 17.2%, according to a Bloomberg Intelligence study, but Dangote Cement boasted a margin of 42.3%.

A 2016 World Bank study found that individuals in other countries pay 183% less for a 50-kilo of cement than it goes for in Africa. For instance, the cement prices in Africa were around $9.57 while other countries paid $3.25 for the same quantity.

In 2017, the Dangote Group subsidiary generated approximately $2.2 billion in revenue. The cement industry has also been a source of employment for most Africans, employing around 24,000 employees. In the 49 MTA, Nigeria alone produces around 32.3 MTA.

The Group’s EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization) from cement in 2020 summed to ₦ 478.1 billion. The revenue that year was ₦ 1,034.2 billion from the production of 25.7 MT.

Dangote Cement also runs the largest coal mining in Nigeria. It is one of Africa’s top producers, using coal to generate power rather than natural gas because of the scarcity of gas supply. The firm and the Nigerian economy benefit from the coal mining program, lowering the demand for foreign exchange and enabling the nation to retain existing employment opportunities while creating new ones.

Sugar Refining

When Dangote moved into production in 1999, he constructed sugar refineries and a flour mill. Dangote Sugar’s stock debuted on the Nigerian Stock Exchange in 2010, and sales had increased fourfold to $450 million, making it Africa’s largest sugar refinery and, by some accounts, the world’s second-largest. Similarly, Dangote Flour’s revenue grew threefold to $270 million.

The leading sugar refinery in Nigeria brought in a revenue of N150 billion in 2018, with a production capacity of 1.44 MTA. The sugar subsidiary boasts of employing around 10,000 employees from the Nigerian population.

Infrastructure

Dangote Industries Limited is also involved in constructing roads, bridges, and other infrastructural projects. The company has built several asphalt plants across Nigeria. His companies have constructed roads linking major cities such as Lagos, Abuja, Kano, and Port Harcourt.

In 2014, the Dangote Group signed a $3.3 billion deal with the Chinese state-owned China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) to build a standard gauge railway line from Lagos to Calabar. The railway line transports Dangote’s products, including cement, sugar, and flour, to other parts of Nigeria.

Dangote is the contractor for Nigeria’s longest concrete road project, the Obajana-Kabba road in Kogi State, covering 43 kilometers. The N72.9 billion initiative includes sections of dual carriageway connecting the north and the south. The Group has also completed another 26 kilometers of Itori-Ibese road, which is part of Dangote’s infrastructure program. The company is currently working on a 35-km Apapa-Oshodi-Oworonsoki-Ojota route.

Salt and Seasonings

The Dangote Group is also involved in the production of salt and seasonings. The company has a significant market share in the production of salt, spices, and seasonings in Nigeria.

NASCON, a member of the Dangote group established in 1973, is one of Nigeria’s most popular salt brands. According to the company reports, it has a production capacity of 567,000 MTA. In 2017, the company had a turnover of N25.77 billion. The subsidiary currently has only 500 employees across Africa.

Fertilizer

The Dangote Group has also invested in several agriculture projects. The company has built several fertilizer plants in Nigeria that produce fertilizers used by farmers to increase crop yields. The company has also made warehouses across Nigeria to store grains such as rice, maize, and wheat.

For instance, the Dangote Fertiliser Plant is the continent’s largest Granulated Urea Fertilizer factory. 

In Lagos, Nigeria, the plant covers 500 hectares of land and cost $2.5 billion to construct. The firm has ties to Corporate Farms, Farmer Associations, NPK Blenders, NGO and development partners, and state governments across the continent, including Nigeria. These ties help achieve sustainable strategies for improving farm soil and yields.

Dangote Fertilizer Complex was established to produce 3 million MTA of urea fertilizer in phase one. According to reports, this can be accomplished by increasing sales and investing in other countries where prices are higher than Nigeria’s market price but lower than worldwide cost levels.

Rice Farming

Dangote Rice Limited customizes catchment regions to meet the needs of paddy rice. The company uses direct outreach, Agent-based models and aggregation to scale up. These strategies are also the affiliate company’s core pillars.

The farms included secure food supply and utilized open markets to balance supply with demand. With this sourcing strategy, the firm is expected to produce a huge supply of paddy rice, hire over 100,000 farmers, and improve food security. The success in this industry will, in return, increase Dangote’s net worth a notch higher.

Dangote Petroleum Refinery

The Dangote Petroleum Refinery takes up 2,635 hectares of land, roughly six times the size of Victoria Island. The Oil Refinery has been under construction since 2016 and will begin operations in Q4 2022. The firm is estimated to produce 650,000 barrels per day, making it one of the largest oil producers in Africa.

The refinery will be able to satisfy 100% of the country’s demand for refined products, as well as have a surplus of each.

The Pipeline Infrastructure, spanning 1,100 km, is the largest worldwide. It handles 3 billion Standard Cubic Feet of gas per day. The Refinery features a 400MW Power Plant that can satisfy the entire power demand of Ibadan DisCo.

Automotive

The conglomerate is also in a joint automotive venture with Sinotruck. The $10-million plant assembles vehicles in Nigeria to meet local demand and export. Dangote owns 65% while Sinotruck 35%. In addition, the group is in business with Shacman truck assemblers, the Transit Support Services (TSS), where Dangote Group is 90% the fleet customer. The investment is worth over N60 billion.

Conclusion

Dangote’s investments are a testament to his belief in the African continent. The billionaire has invested heavily in many industries, including salt, fertilizer, rice, and oil. These investments are expected to help grow the Nigerian economy and create local jobs.

What do you think of Dangote’s investment strategy? Do you feel more billionaires should invest in Africa? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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