On the outskirts of Lagos, in Ibeju Lekki district, Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote, who is the founder and chairman of Dangote Group, is building Africa’s biggest petroleum refinery and the world’s biggest single-train facility. When complete, it will have a capacity to process about 650,000 barrels per day of crude oil.
Nigeria, currently lacks the refining capacity to meet local demand, and instead imports refined petroleum, placing a burden on the foreign reserves. But Aliko Dangote’s refinery has been labelled as the solution to the country's oil import problem. The refinery is just part of a $15 billion petrochemical complex that will also house a gas processor and the world’s biggest plant for ammonia and urea and is expected to generate 9,500 direct and 25,000 indirect jobs.
The Dangote Group was founded in 1981 importing sugar, cement, rice, fisheries, and other consumer goods for distribution in the Nigeria market and moved into manufacturing in the 1990s. The group has also diversified into oil and gas-related ventures.
Today, it is a multi trillion naira conglomerate, with over 18 subsidiaries, operating in ten African countries, employing more than 30,000 people. Dangote Cement, is one of these subsidiaries that is listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, (NSE) with its market capitalization accounting for almost 20 percent of the total capitalization of the NSE. Dangote Group's competitors in both Nigeria and other portions of Africa include Stallion Group.
Aliko Dangote, the businessman known for founding and leading the Dangote Group, was born in 1957 in Nigeria. In 1978, he graduated from the Government College, Birnin Kudu. He received a bachelor's degree in business studies and administration from Al-Azhar University, Cairo, considered one of Islam’s most prestigious universities. After graduation he managed to convince his uncle to lend him money to start a business. The funds from the loan allowed him to import soft commodities at wholesale prices from international suppliers.
In an interview with Nigeria's Vanguard Media he said: "I built a conglomerate and emerged the richest black man in the world in 2008 but it didn't happen overnight. It took me 30 years to get to where I am today. Youths of today aspire to be like me but they want to achieve it overnight. It's not going to work. To build a successful business, you must start small and dream big. In the journey of entrepreneurship, tenacity of purpose is supreme."
During another interview with Al Jazeera News, Dangote explained how he expanded his empire by reinvested the majority of his profits back into his businesses:
‘‘We [Dangote Group] are not doing like other Africans who keep most of their money in the bank. We do not keep money in the bank. We fully invest whatever we have and we keep on investing."
He has an estimated net worth of US$8.3 billion, making him the 162nd wealthiest person in the world and the richest person in Africa.