Billionaire Dangote has got his fingers in so many pies—and yet he’s having a roll up the rich-dad list
Aliko Dangote lost a fortune in 2015: $5 billion. That is about 80 percent of the wealth ($6.1 billion) of Mike Adenuga—his closest rival in Nigeria and No 3 in Africa—and thrice Folorunsho Alakija’s. With $1.61 billion, Alakija currently remains Nigeria’s third billionaire, Africa’s 18th, and one of the world’s richest black women on Forbes rich list.
What Dangote lost to Nigeria’s recent crunch could make former billionaire Femi Otedola 21 times richer. The oil businessman’s current wealth has been eroded to $330 million, which hastened his moonlight flit from the big boy’s club in 2017.
Despite that huge drawdown, Dangote’s asset currently stands at $12.2 billion, making him the world’s richest black, and the 105th billionaire on the planet. He’s also maintained his top notch as Africa’s richest dude for five times in a row.
And he probably has had it for keeps—because he’s got the holy grail that makes billionaire richer.
Forbes analysis of what the rich do that rakes in their billions reveals there are certain industries that are money spinners now, and they are region-specific.
Of the 1,810 billionaire studied, 267 are investors; 221, retailers; 167, real estate whizzes; 159, techies; manufacturers, 157; diversifiers, 145; and foodies, 141. Others are healthcare providers, 113; oil giants, 80; media moguls, 74; and lonepreneurs, 25.
Besides the perking order of their industries, the side of the pond you come from also matters.
In Africa, you might not hit your goldmines yet getting into competition with rich kids like Larry Page and Mark Zuckerberg in technology, or Michael Bloomberg in media, or Lee Shau Kee in real estate or e-commerce like the world N0 1 rich man Jeff Bezos. Banking and Finance, retail/fashion won’t swing you to the top either— the Forbes way—in the continent.
Forbes discovered that diversifiers, investors, construction engineers, fashion retailers, and mining companies—in that order– are making money hand over fist across the Middle East and Africa.
Perhaps that is what Dangote takes seriously: diversification.
The chairman of the Dangote Group bestrides 18 companies currently, four of them listed on the Nigeria Stock Exchange, and one other on South Africa’s bourse. The 19th in his kitty is Etisalat, the sick man of Nigeria’s telecom industry. He just acquired well over 60 percent of its shares, like he has always done with companies that go belly-up.
His business empire also cuts across industries: food and beverages, manufacturing, telecoms, oil and gas, mining, transport, engineering, and more.
But his rivals on the continent, where diversifying is key to moving up the billionaire ladder, don’t like pushing the envelope. Most of them are fixated on oil and gas. Alakija has been hugging her oil block since the 90s. Otedola’s oil and gas and shipping passion, too, is strong. And he has been roughing it out with all the whipsaws on the commodity market, morphing from Zenon to AP to Forte. He has a smattering of holdings in real estate and finance though. His wealth, however, swells and shrinks with the boom-and-bust cycle in the oil market.
And the billionaire wannabes in Nigeria seem betting on the wrong horse. Those web nerds, especially the Wal-Mart motivated, are going gung-ho on e-commerce; others are all over the media, fashion, and others industries where it takes sweat, tears, and blood to hit the jackpot—the billionaire way—in Africa.
Diversification has its flipside, really.
It’s not every businessman that has the financial ammo to fight in that war.
Which is why Dangote and the handful in the uppercrust may continue to wax stronger.