Early life and Education
Aliko Dangote was born in Kano, Nigeria, on April 10, 1957, into a wealthy, business-focused family. His maternal great-grandfather was Alhassan Dantata, the richest person in West Africa at his death in 1955.
Dangote attended Sheikh Ali Kumasi Madrasa School and Capital High School before enrolling at the Birnin Kudu Government College. After graduating college, Dangote furthered his studies at Al-Azhar University in Egypt, earning a bachelor’s degree in business and administration.
In 1977, Aliko Dangote relocated to the Nigerian city of Lagos, where he expanded the Dangote Group. He received a ₦500,000 (around US$657.25) loan from his uncle and began trading commodities like agricultural goods and bagged cement.
In the 1990s, Dangote successfully proposed a transportation contract to the Central Bank of Nigeria to manage their staff bus fleet. It was one of Dangote’s first steps in the massive business expansion his company experienced in the coming years.
Road to success
The Dangote Group moved from being a trading company to one of the largest industrial groups in the country. From there, the company became one of the largest African conglomerates with an international presence in Togo, Zambia, Ghana, and Benin. Dangote Group has various divisions, including Dangote Flour, Dangote Cement, and Dangote Sugar Refinery.
The company dominates the Nigerian sugar industry and supplies as much as 70% of the country’s soft drink companies, confectioners, and breweries, making it the leading supplier. Dangote Group employs over 11,000 people throughout West Africa.
In 2007, Dangote became Nigeria’s first billionaire. By 2013, he added over US$9 billion to his wealth and became the wealthiest person in Africa – a title he continued to hold until at least June 30, 2023.
Dangote actively contributed to President Olusegun Obasanjo’s re-election in 2003 with a significant donation. He also donated to the Presidential Library and made several donations to the PDP party. In 2011, President Goodluck Jonathan appointed Dangote as his economic management team member. In 2017, Dangote announced he would not run for President of Nigeria, contradicting rumors. Instead, he accepted a position serving on the special advisory committee for the Muhammadu Buhari Re-election Campaign.
Aliko Dangote is actively involved with socially conscious and philanthropic organizations and regularly donates. He mainly focuses his charitable actions on public health and social causes.
Projects and organizations Aliko supports
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Dangote works with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in support of public health issues.
In 2014, Dangote generously donated ₦150 million (around $750,000) to the Nigerian government to support its efforts to stop the spread of Ebola.
In 2016, Dangote substantially pledged to support Nigerians affected by the Boko Haram insurgency.
In 2020, Dangote donated ₦200 million ($500,000) to Nigeria’s government to help combat Covid-19 in Nigeria.