Monday, May 07, 2012

The wealthiest man in Africa

Aliko Dangote is the richest man in Africa. He dwarfs diamond kings, telecom giants and oil magnates, with his estimated $11.2-billion. Dangote's fortune comes cement.

 Dangote, built his fortune on Africa's prodigious hunger for infrastructure — and cement — expanding rapidly since 2000 despite his country's chronic bad governance. When the government drags its feet in laying a gas pipeline to service a factory, he builds it. When he needs a road, he does it. Faced with hopelessly unreliable state electricity, he constructs his own power plants for his factories. He clambered to the top by snapping up privatized state enterprises, then expanding and building his own cement factories and other plants, whose output includes such products as instant noodles and prayer mats.

In that sense, Dangote resembles Russia's billionaire oligarch class, which got rich when the state sold off assets. His close links with Nigeria's political elite gave him an inside line when state assets were privatized — a process that, like Russia's, has been criticized as opaque and corrupt.

Politician Junaid Mohammed said. "The question is whether he was entitled to the businesses at the price he got them and on the terms," he said. "Let us not be naive: A lot of everything that happens in life depends on connections. Your fortunes depend on who will be able to open the door for you."

He had traveled to the Republic of Congo the previous day, met the president, and donated half a million dollars in the aftermath of a munitions depot explosion that killed more than 200 people and flattened an entire neighborhood. (Dangote plans to build a cement plant in the country.)

Critics call Dangote ruthless, and accuse him of aggressive price cutting to drive smaller rivals out of business.

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