Aliko Dangote is not a small man. Someone of his stature, being Africa’s richest man with at least $17,5 billion to his name, will not make a rushed investment decision and is also far from being myopic or he would not be as rich as he is.
He runs successful businesses in Africa and beyond and his empire stretches across sectors in which you do not make it by luck or by chance but sheer hard work and alertness to market dictates.
Therefore, when such a man decides to invest in an economy, you will know for certain that he has done his research thoroughly and is confident that his resources will not go down the drain but will yield much for him.
His company, Dangote Group, is not a social welfare organisation but is in business to make profit hence they naturally ensure that every investment brings a good return. A proper ROI (Return On Investment) analysis will have been done giving an indication that such an investment is worthwhile.
It is within this context that Mr Dankote has announced that he will pour in billions into the Zimbabwean economy. And he means business.
“We are not here looking to invest. We have already made up our mind to invest, so we are here and we will invest,” he said after meeting President Mugabe and his two Vice Presidents Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko in Harare on Monday.
He stressed that his team will be back in the country next week to execute the plan “to create jobs and to also help Zimbabwe to develop the economy”.
This not only illustrates how ready and how serious he is, but also the confidence he has in this country and its future.
Zimbabwe has for long been internationally brandished as an economy that will not amount to anything, one that is not good for business. It ranks very lowly on the ease of doing business index but it is comforting to see that investors of note see past such political grandstanding and give themselves time to assess the situation on the ground.
While issues of red tape, unfriendly or inconsistent policies noted by such institutions as the World Economic Forum’s Global Growth Report are important to note and act on, those based on mere hearsay and cheap politicking must be ignored completely.
Indeed Zimbabwe is far from being a perfect investment destination but it is not a bad one either. A few loose ends need to be tied urgently and more effort directed towards improving the economic climate to make it more investor friendly but such expression of confidence as has been shown by Mr Dangote vindicates this economy in some aspects.
The gesture by Mr Dangote also sends a powerful message to potential investors that Zimbabwe, contrary to some beliefs, is a good destination for investment.
Some investors have been sitting on the fence for too long waiting for this or that to happen first but serious ones in the mould of Mr Dangote know that in business there is no time to waste. Indeed time waits for no man and opportunity does not knock every day.
Indeed since the beginning of the year Zimbabwe has hosted a number of business delegations from Europe, Asia and other parts of the globe who are intent on investing in this economy.
Quite a number of projects are already in the cooking pot while further negotiations are ongoing in others.
This will obviously culminate in projects that will generate wealth, create jobs and ensure Zimbabwe returns to a sustained growth path.
But authorities here need to take note of something very important that Mr Dangote said:
“The time-frame for the investment is dependent on getting all the documentation, for instance the mining licences, but if we get everything this year we will start construction by the first quarter of next year. We will move very fast, but that all depends on the Government.”
I heard him loud and very clear. The ball is in our court. Zimbabwe has often been criticised for having too much bureaucracy in processing and approving investments and we would like to believe that this area is receiving active attention to ensure things are done more swiftly.
The economy can ill-afford any unnecessary dilly-dallying and dithering that has often proved very costly to the economy.
The Zimbabwe Investment Authority needs to rise to the occasion and ensure all is in place for a smoother and more efficient approval mechanism while the various Government arms and departments responsible for licensing and other such processes are in top gear.
We certainly cannot afford to discourage the investment that we badly need. Mr Dangote says he is interested in setting up a big cement plant, power generation and coal mining. These are critical areas that will create lots of jobs while providing the impetus that this economy is aching for.
Of-course, when talking business, Mr Dangote is his element and indeed demonstrated clarity and vision and his body language said it all — he is raring to go. Please let us not let this deal or any other slip away.
We will not over-estimate the impact of the Dangote deal on the economy but by all means let us not under estimate it either.
In God I trust!
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Below are a few snippets about Aliko Dangote
Aliko Dangote is Africa’s richest man as well as the richest man in Nigeria with a net worth of $17,7 billion as of August 2015 according to Forbes.
The Nigerian businessman’s fortune surged 557 percent in 2010, making him the world’s biggest gainer in percentage terms and Africa’s richest individual for the first time. The catalyst was listing Dangote Cement, which integrated his investments across Africa with his previously public Benue Cement; it now accounts for a quarter of the Nigeria Stock Exchange’s total market cap. Already the continent’s biggest cement maker, he has plants under construction in Zambia, Tanzania, Congo and Ethiopia and is building cement terminals in Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast and Liberia, among other places. Dangote, who recently bought himself a $45 million Bombardier aircraft for his birthday, has been shuttling back and forth to London for months, in anticipation of a public offering there later this year. Dangote began his career as a commodities trader; built his Dangote Group into a conglomerate with interests in sugar, flour milling, salt processing, cement manufacturing, textiles, real estate, and oil and gas.
Aliko Dangote, the First Nigerian billionaire was born on April 10 year 1957. He is the founder of Dangote Group.
He said: “I assume I have to be rated by Forbes Magazine prior to being called the richest man in Africa. But, you know, I’m very comfortable.”
He ranked first in Nigeria in Forbes Magazine’s 2008 list of the richest people in the world with a fortune estimated at $3,3 billion.
Aliko Dangote is the ‘‘golden child’’ of Nigerian business circles. The Dangote consortium spans across numerous sectors of the Nigerian economy. The Dangote Group supplies commodities like cement, sugar, salt, flour, rice, spaghetti, fabric etc at very competitive prices.
Apart from offering employment opportunities to elite graduates from different ethnic backgrounds, he reduces the level of crime by engaging youths who are school leavers in the area of transportation, product packaging, security amidst others.
He is into exporting, importing, manufacturing, real-estate and philanthropy. All of these are combined together to form what is known as the Dangote Group.
Born in Kano, his grandfather, the late Alhaji Sanusi Dantata provided him with a small capital to start his own business, as was the practice then. He thus started business in Kano in 1977 trading in commodities and also building supplies.
Alhaji Aliko Dangote moved to Lagos in June 1977 and persisted in trading cement and commodities. Encouraged by tremendous success and increased in business activities, he incorporated two companies in 1981. These as well as others that followed now make up the conglomerate known as The Dangote Group.