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How Aliko Dangote Became the Richest Person in Africa


1 How Can Aliko Dangote Become the Richest Person in Africa?1.1 KEY TAKEAWAYS2 Understanding How Aliko Dangote Became the Richest Person in Africa3 An Empire Is Born4 Cutting Out the Middleman4.1 $10.9 billion5 Expanding the Empire6 Awards and Charity Work6.1 […]

How Can Aliko Dangote Become the Richest Person in Africa?

For the tenth time in a row, Aliko Dangote was named the richest man in Africa in 2021, with an estimated net worth of $11.8 billion.1 The company empire he started to build over three years ago, Dangote Group, is among the biggest private-sector employers in Nigeria in addition to the most precious conglomerate in West Africa.

At age 21, Dangote borrowed $3,000 from his uncle to import and sell agricultural products in Nigeria, his native country. His business enterprise quickly became a success, and consequently, he was able to repay the whole loan within three months of beginning operations. Ultimately, Dangote managed to turn a regional commodities trading business to a multibillion-dollar corporation.


  • Aliko Dangote has been the richest man in Africa for ten years in a row, with a net worth of nearly $12 billion.
  • Dangote’s fortune is mainly built from his firm, Dangote Cement, although he began his own business empire by selling products like salt, sugar, and flour.
  • While he grew up upper-class, Dangote was entrepreneurial from a young age and began his first company with a loan from his uncle.

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Understanding How Aliko Dangote Became the Richest Person in Africa

Dangote’s business interests encompass many industries, such as oil and gas, consumer products, and production. However, Dangote Cement constitutes most the conglomerate’s earnings, of which Dangote owns 85%. According to Forbes magazine, the subsidiary generates 45.6 million metric tons of cement each year and operates in 10 African nations.1

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Dangote also possesses the world’s third-largest sugar refinery, and collectively, all of his publicly traded firms constitute a quarter of their market capitalization of the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

As of Nov. 6, Dangote Cement Group reported annual earnings of 284.6 billion Nigerian nairas, approximately US$720 million.2

Early Life and Education of the Richest African

Born in 1957, Dangote grew up in an entrepreneurial family in Kano State, Nigeria. He was raised Muslim and lived an upper-class life. Dangote’s grandfather, Sanusi Dantata, was named among the richest people living in Kano. He made his fortune selling products like rice and oats. Dantata became Dangote’s protector in 1965 following the death of his father.

Having spent much of his youth with his grandfather, Dangote immediately became interested in the area of business, once saying,”I can recall when I was in primary school, I’d go and purchase cartons of candies [sugar boxes] and I’d begin selling them only to make money. I had been so interested in company, even at that moment.” 3

At age 21, Dangote graduated from Egypt’s Al-Azhar University, considered one of Islam’s most prestigious universities. It had been there the budding entrepreneur furthered his education in business.

An Empire Is Born

After graduating from college in 1977, Dangote was able to convince his uncle to give him cash to begin a business. The funds in the loan enabled him to import soft commodities at wholesale prices from international providers. Two of his most important imports were rice from Thailand and sugar from Brazil. He then sold those things in tiny quantities to customers in his village in a lucrative markup.

The venture quickly became successful and become a cash cow. In an interview with Forbes, Dangote asserts that on his best days, he was realizing a daily net profit of $10,000. He enabled him to repay his uncle in just 3 months.4

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Cutting Out the Middleman

In 1997, Dangote realized that acting as a middleman was a really costly undertaking, so he constructed a plant to make what he was importing and selling to the past 20 years: sugar, pasta, salt, and flour.


Around the same time, Dangote has been awarded a state-owned cement firm. Dangote significantly expanded the operations of the business in 2005 by building a multimillion-dollar manufacturing plant. The construction was financed with $319 million of Dangote’s own money as well as a $479 million loan from the International Finance Corporation, a sister company of The World Bank.

Each of his production divisions has since been divided into publicly traded firms: Dangote Sugar Refinery PLC., National Salt Company of Nigeria PLC., Dangote Flour Mills PLC., and Dangote Cements PLC..

$10.9 billion

Aliko Dangote’s net worth, as of 2020.

Expanding the Empire

Dangote has always reinvested the vast majority of his profits back into his companies –one reason the company has grown so much since beginning. During a meeting with Al Jazeera News, Aliko Dangote clarified,”We [Dangote Group] aren’t doing like other Africans who keep most of their cash in the bank. We don’t keep money in the bank. We completely invest whatever we have and we continue investment (sic).” 5

Unlike many wealthy Nigerians who made their fortune in oil, Dangote originally decided to go down another route, but he has since entered the oil and gas sector. In an attempt to put some of his cash reserves to operate, Dangote is working on a gigantic oil refinery in Lagos, which is projected to begin operations in late 2021. If successful, it may significantly reduce Nigeria’s reliance on international suppliers for gas and oil and finish the import of $7 billion in fuel annually. The $15 billion refinery in Nigeria is the largest industrial project ever in Nigeria and is expected to produce 650,000 barrels of oil daily.6

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Awards and Charity Work

Aliko Dangote is a major philanthropist and founded his eponymous private charitable foundation in 1994. The Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF) is dedicated to adding value to people’s lives across Africa by encouraging health, education, and economic empowerment initiatives. Now, the Foundation is the largest private foundation in sub-Saharan Africa.

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Notably, Dangote’s Foundation began partnering with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2013 so as to eliminate polio and strengthen routine immunizations across the country.7 In August 2020, the whole African continent (where Nigeria was last) celebrated its official certificate as free of wild polio.8

Aliko Dangote FAQs

How Did Aliko Dangote Get Rich?

Aliko Dangote made his fortune by selling and importing agricultural commodities, and afterwards through oil and gas, consumer products, and production. Nearly all Dangote’s fortune comes from Dangote Cement, which generates 45.6 million metric tons of cement each year and operates in 10 African countries.

What Does Dangote Produce?

Dangote primarily produces oil, concrete, and other commodities like sugar.

Who’s Aliko Dangote’s Wife?

Aliko Dangote is a mentor and not currently married.

Who’s the Richest Black Person in the World?

Aliko Dangote is the wealthiest Black person on earth.

How Many Trillionaires Are There in the World?

There are currently no trillionaires on earth, but numerous sources estimate that Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, could become the world’s first trillionaire by 2026.

The Bottom Line

Aliko Dangote’s journey to luck isn’t a rags-to-riches story. He came from a wealthy family that has been able to give financial aid to start his company. Through time, Dangote has expanded into new business segments, such as telecommunications, property, and steel production. Now his holding firm , Dangote Group, is the largest conglomerate in West Africa. His name as”richest man in Africa” appears only to be one he will hold for a long time to come.

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