January 27, 2023

Vanguard Personality of the Year: Aliko Dangote, self-effacing representative of Africa

President of the Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote

In the spheres of commitment to serve, drive for excellence, utilitarian determination, philanthropic outreach, and contribution to national development, Aliko Dangote deserves the honour of being named Vanguard’s Personality of the Year, 2022.

Road Safety: Dangote Cement targets accident-free transportation
President of the Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote

By Jide Ajani

NO Nigerian today has demonstrated more utilitarian determination and unmatched ambition in business than he has. There is no individual referred to as president, whose persona dwarfs that of the presidents of many nations, yet, he is not the president of a nation. He has and continues to represent Africa very well on the global stage.

For eleven, consecutive years, he has been the richest man in Africa, according to both Forbes and Bloomberg. He is no other than this self-effacing, sometimes shy, but rugged and dogged individual: Welcome to the universe of Aliko Dangote, founder and President/Chief Executive of Dangote Industries Limited.

Read Also: Video: Vanguard Personality of the Year Award 2022

For you to be in charge of the largest conglomerate in West Africa, you must possess some skills, a high level of intellect, and a capacity to manage people and resources. A graduate of Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt, Dangote began his business career in 1978, trading in rice, sugar, and cement, before he ventured into full-scale manufacturing.

The group he founded currently has a presence in 17 African countries and is the market leader in cement on the continent. One of the group’s subsidiaries, Dangote Cement Plc, is the largest listed company in West Africa and the first Nigerian company to join the Forbes Global 2000 Companies list. The group has two other subsidiaries: Dangote Sugar Refinery and NASCON Allied Industries, both listed on the Nigerian Exchange Limited, NGX. 

The Group is diversified and operates in major sectors of the Nigerian economy, including agriculture. Is it necessary to explain why Dangote was chosen as Vanguard’s personality of the year? Not necessarily, in light of contemporary achievements. Yes, whereas there are those who may quickly insist and, therefore, say, his familial linkage to the Dantatas whose humongous wealth cannot be divorced from his achievements, there is a clear difference between latching on to the riches of others to grow and launching into an expanded universe with disruptive ideas that are, at once, unmatched and unique in content, context, and deliverables.

Consider this: Dangote is at the completion stage of the construction of a petroleum refinery with the capacity to refine 650,000 barrels of crude oil per day, which will become the largest single train refinery in the world, along with a petrochemical plant and fertiliser complex. The Dangote Fertiliser plant was inaugurated on March 22, and the Dangote Refinery project is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2023. Before Vanguard, many had seen in him the need to reward excellence.

The South Africa-based Brand Leadership Movement in collaboration with the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, JSE, awarded Dangote ‘the most admired African brand’ in 2018, of African continent origin. This man sits on the board of the Corporate Council on Africa and is a member of the Steering Committee of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Global Education First Initiative, the Clinton Global Initiative, the McKinsey Advisory Council, and the International Business Council of the World Economic Forum. He was named Co-Chair of the US-Africa Business Centre, in September 2016, by the US Chamber of Commerce.

In April 2017, he joined the Board of Directors of the Clinton Health Access Initiative, which is helping countries build the systems necessary to provide health services to their people. A dedicated philanthropist, Dangote made an initial endowment of $1.25 billion to the Aliko Dangote Foundation in March 2014, enabling it to scale up its work in health, education, and economic empowerment.

In addition, he is collaborating with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to fight polio. He is also on the board of ONE, the anti-poverty group, co-founded by Bono. In recognition of his achievements and philanthropy, Aliko Dangote has received many laurels both within and outside Nigeria.

On November 14, 2011, the Nigerian government conferred on him the title of Grand Commander of the Niger (GCON), making him the first person outside government functionaries to bag the honour. In 2013, he was conferred with the highest national honour in the Republic of Benin, the Grand Commander of the National Order of the Republic of Benin.

In 2014, he also made the list of CNBC’s ‘Top 25 Businessmen in the World’ that changed and shaped the century. In November 2019, the Nigerian government conferred on him the National Productivity Order of Merit Award in recognition of his contributions to the Nigerian economy. In June 2021, he received the highest civilian honour in Cameroon – the Commander of the National Order of Valor – from the President of the Republic, Paul Biya.

Most recently, in August 2022, Dangote was conferred the Commander of the Order of Merit of Niger award by the President of the Republic of Niger, Mohamed Bazoum, in Niamey, in appreciation of his services rendered to the Republic of Niger and as a tribute to his business acumen and philanthropy.

In April 2014, TIME magazine listed him among its 100 ‘Most Influential People in the World.’ For six consecutive years — 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 Forbes listed him as the ‘Most Powerful Man in Africa’ alongside the Egyptian President Abdel Fatteh el Sisi. In December 2014, he was named ‘Forbes Africa Person of the Year.’ In September 2015, he was named ‘African Businessman of the Year’ by London-based IC Publications. In October 2015, Aliko Dangote was listed among ‘50 Most Influential Individuals in the World’ by Bloomberg Markets. In September 2016, he won the ‘2016 African Business Leader Award,’ organised by the Africa-America Institute, AAI. Furthermore, his foundation, The Aliko Dangote Foundation, won the “Philanthropy of the Year Award” at the Grand Finale of the CNBC Africa-organized All Africa Business Leaders Awards, AABLA, in November 2016 in South Africa.

In 2017, he emerged among The Bloomberg 50, a new, yearly, multi-platform initiative that honours 50 icons and innovators who have changed the global business landscape in measurable ways. He was rated the most influential African by Jeune Afrique in their classification of the most influential 50 Africans in 2018, and was also named the 6th most charitable person in the world in the same year according to Richtopia, a United Kingdom-based digital platform.

In February 2019, Bloomberg, in its 2019 Billionaires list of the top 500 billionaires in the world, ranked Aliko Dangote as the 64th richest man in the world and the richest man in Africa, which moved him up significantly from his previous ranking of 103rd in the world. In January 2020, Bloomberg, in its 2020 Billionaires list of the top 500 billionaires in the world, ranked Aliko Dangote as the richest man in Africa, and again in July 2022.

He remains the richest African for the eleventh consecutive year, In March 2020, Aliko Dangote spearheaded a private sector initiative to support the federal government in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

The initiative, known as the Coalition Against COVID-19, CACOVID, has raised almost N40 billion from more than 50 private sector members to provide medical equipment, health infrastructure, and food relief materials for millions of Nigerians across the country to mitigate the effect of the coronavirus. He also serves on JP Morgan’s Advisory Board.

In the spheres of commitment to serve, drive for excellence, utilitarian determination, philanthropic outreach to help, and contribution to national development, President Aliko Dangote deserves the honour of being named Vanguard’s Personality of the Year, 2022.