Aliko Dangote, founder and president/Chief Executive, Dangote Group, the biggest conglomerate in West Africa, on Sunday advised the young African entrepreneurs to work hard, be patient, and have the backing of strong financial institutions, in order for the continent to have 10 to 50 Dangotes within 10 years.
Dangote said this during the fire chart on the sideline of Afreximbank’s 30th annual meetings going on in Accra Ghana.
“First of all, there are quite a lot of opportunities. The young African entrepreneurs have to work very hard. It is not all that easy. I mean, for example, I have been in business for 45 years. So it’s been a great journey. They have to be focused. They have to make sure that they have a vision and know exactly where to go. We, as Africans, must make sure that we have good local domestic banks, because if you don’t have local domestic banks, you are not going to be given that opportunity to scale the first hurdle,” he said.
“They need strong financial institutions. What they need to do is to go, come down and have the belief that Yes, things can happen. But it is not overnight. Majority of our youth are looking at making things happen the next day. Patience is required.
“And also they have to have a vision. They cannot just jump into everything. You might not be good at everything. You have to believe in yourself.
Dangote said there are many ways of making money through technology and industrial revolution, adding that the youth are very smart and educated.
“I can tell you that within maybe a period of 10 years, with the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) we can have not only one but we can create 50 Dangotes, it is not difficult,” he said.
He congratulated Afreximbank on its 30th anniversary, saying “without Afreximbank our dreams/vision would not have come to fruition. They did a lot. The bank gave us a lot of advice particularly during the Covid-19.
“So the relationship has actually been very, very good. And I want to personally thank Benedict Oramah, president and chairman, the board members for assisting a lot of entrepreneurs like myself in Africa, to make sure that our dreams come true,” he said.
He urged African countries to work together and ensure that AfCFTA is fully implemented. “Africans, we must get together, we must assist each other. We must go to banks like Afreximbank and show them what we have so that we can fully industrialise Africa and make sure the AfCFTA works,” he said.
He said what he has done in the last five years with the support of a consortium of banks including African Development Bank, other local commercial banks and other institutions was to make sure that AfCFTA works.
“We now have 3 million tonnes of urea and sometimes when I hear African countries looking for fertiliser, I say well, we have a lot. Nigeria produces 6 million tonnes and we did all this within a period of five years, both ourselves and Indorama. For petroleum products, we are going to use 650,000 barrels per day, which is a lot. So it can satisfy the entire West Africa and some of the Central African countries like Angola and others. It is a very huge capacity. We have 900,000 tonnes of polypropylene and we are making more plastics. So this will actually help.
“What I keep saying is that yes, AfCFTA is a great idea. It will help to grow all our economies, it will create massive jobs. Most of these youth loitering around will be able to have jobs, but we have to cooperate, we have to make sure that things move.
He urged African countries to give Africans visas on arrival to facilitate trade. “We invested about $620 million in South Africa, the biggest investment. A neighbouring country, Angola, wanted me to come and invest and I say no I do not want to invest in Angola because getting even a visa was difficult. So, we must free up a visa that will allow Africans to move in,” he said.