Dangote has private jets for different occasions – bush strips and international runways. But he is far from being your brash and bling tycoon. His impeccable manners are exemplified by the way he apologises to present company each time he answers his mobile phone. That is not a trait he shares with many big or small men from his country.
He is also Nescafé rather than Nespresso, as I discovered on his otherwise-tasteful motor yacht, moored on the lagoon that gave sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest city its name. What luxury he does enjoy appears curiously functional, less showmanship than props for the main act – which is leveraging his existing businesses to create a virtuous cycle of ever-expanding wealth and jobs.
The boat, I’m told, is a convenient place to entertain visitors, rather than a toy for the kind of watery excursions Dangote’s timetable ill affords. The planes? Well if you have to zip frequently from one poorly connected African city to another, and can afford to avoid accident-prone airlines, having your own makes sense.
“The most dangerous thing is to be surrounded by people who tell you what you want to hear,” Dangote remarks, as I attempt to burrow a way into his ever-mobile schedule. It is not clear whether that comment is a reflection of the reality around him. As one Lagos-based broker comments: “Dangote is an entrepreneur, investor and manager all in one.” By nature he is not a delegator, nor someone who welcomes criticism readily, soft-spoken as he may appear to be.
“Working with him as a banker is extremely challenging. If you don’t know his business at an extremely detailed level you don’t stand a chance – he will unravel you in seconds. He does not suffer fools gladly,” says Yvonne Ike, West Africa CEO of Renaissance Capital.
Dangote’s great-grandfather on his mother’s side, Alhassan Dantata, was one of West Africa’s richest merchants. He brought kola nuts from Ghana and exported groundnuts from Nigeria. That was before oil was discovered, when the country was one of the world’s leading groundnut producers. —
Aliko Dangote – Africa’s richest man - FT.com
Ed’s note: As the world wakes up to notice Africa’s superstars, we’ve been proud fans of Aliko Dangote for the past couple of years now.
The U.S. Military’s Pivot to Africa, 2012-2013 (key below article) ©2013 TomDispatch ©Google
(via Tomgram: Nick Turse, AFRICOM’s Gigantic “Small Footprint” | TomDispatch)
Ed’s note: We never discuss politics but sometimes there are trends which will definitely be influencing the rise, the economy and the future of African aspiration. This is one of them.
He may look fierce, but he’s really just sweet. And watery.
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Baby, you empty me out.
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