Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote has advised foreign businessmen and diplomats outside Africa to make concerted effort to visit the continent and discover the changes that have taken place so as to correct some of the existing negative perceptions.
He said, “Don’t be lazy. Go there (Africa) and find the real story for yourself. Things have changed.”
Dangote made these comments Wednesday at the headquarters of the global law firm, Shearman and Sterling LLC in New York during the high-level event for business leaders and international diplomats organized by the Corporate Council for Africa.
The event featured Dangote and Rwandan President, Paul Kagame, as guest speakers to lead the conversation on Africa’s opportunities and challenges in a session moderated by Rosa Whitaker, former US Trade Representative and author of the AGOA (African Growth Opportunity Act).
Both leaders underscored the ongoing effort to diversify economies in Africa.
Referencing the Nigerian example which represents Africa’s largest economy, Dangote said “we should pray that oil prices remain low. This helps wean us off the dependency on revenues from petroleum. We must take oil to be the icing on the cake. We already have the cake”.
He emphasized the importance of Nigeria and Africa’s agricultural resources to the global economy, stating that, “Agriculture, agriculture, agriculture. Africa will become the food basket of the world”.
In addition to agriculture, Dangote pointed to Nigeria’s abundant mineral and gas resources, as well as the drive to manufacture more goods locally for domestic consumption, as important aspects to the economic story of the country
Both he and President Kagame advocated for continued effort towards significant investments in education and training especially regarding preparation for the jobs of tomorrow in light of the pace of disruption to the economy.
Dangote predicted that “five of the twelve million jobs needed in Africa soon must be created in Nigeria.”
While acknowledging the role of technology in manufacturing, he called for caution, stating that, “Technology of course helps us a lot and our factories are state of the art with the use of robotics but we shouldn’t be overly tech oriented to create wealth”.
Dangote, who has business interests in Rwanda, cited what he considered the Rwanda success story.
He said Rwanda was an example of positive change, good governance and leadership, a place where corruption has been cured.
He narrated a personal experience where he offered a $100 US tip for services at the Kigali Airport to a staff who refused to take the money.
President Kagame who received praise for creating an environment that stifled corruption and promoted growth, said, “There is nothing African about corruption”.
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