The year 2024 has started on a bright note for Aliko Dangote, the Nigerian billionaire and the richest black person in the world. Last year, he lost his coveted slot as the richest person in Africa to South Africa’s Johann Rupert.
This was after he suffered a $3.6 billion wealth loss, per Forbes’ real-time estimates of his net worth. This brought his fortune to $10.8 billion, second to South Africa’s Johann Rupert, who had a real-time net worth of $11.8 billion, Face2Face Africa reported in June 2023.
The Nigerian billionaire has seen a dramatic increase in his net worth since the start of 2024, as per Bloomberg. According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, he has a current net worth of $21.7 billion, solidifying his position as Africa’s richest. This also puts him above Rupert, who now has a net worth of $12.3 billion, according to the Index.
In the first 22 days of 2024, his wealth grew by over $5.2 billion, Billionaires.Africa observed. The increase was largely due to the market performance of his listed companies, with Dangote Cement taking the lead, the platform added.
Dangote makes his money largely from Dangote Cement, one of Africa’s most successful and recognizable brands. His cement factory has the capacity to produce 48.6 million metric tons annually and has operations in 10 countries across Africa.
In addition to his cement factory, Dangote is also into the production of sugar and until recently, fertilizer and oil refinery. “A $19 billion oil refinery that is currently being developed in Nigeria isn’t included in the valuation because it’s not yet operational,” Bloomberg wrote.
What is more, he is also into the assembling of cars under the name Dangote Peugeot Automobiles Nigeria Limited (DPAN). The assembling of the vehicles started with the Land Trek, 3008, 5008 and the new 508.
How did Dangote start his journey to become a successful businessman and the world’s richest Black person? Dangote was born into a family of wealthy traders from northern Nigeria some 65 years ago. Dangote’s grandfather, Alhassan Dantata, traded mainly kola nuts and groundnuts. But Dantata was also one of the wealthiest men in the British West African colonies.
“My great-grandfather was a kola nut trader, and the richest man in West Africa at the time of his death,” he told Time Magazine during a world economic forum event. “My father was a businessman and politician. I was actually raised by my grandfather. It’s traditional in my culture for grandparents to take the first grandchild and raise it. I had a lot of love, and it gave me a lot of confidence.”
Although Dangote comes from a privileged background, he carved his own entrepreneurial path. At a very young age, while still in primary school, he started looking for his own money. He sold candies to make money in school. He also worked diligently for his uncle, Sani Dangote, which set the stage and laid the foundation for him to dominate the business world.
“I can remember when I was in primary school, I would go and buy cartons of sweets (candies) and I would start selling them just to make money. I was so interested in business, even at that time,” he said.
Shortly after completing his degree in business studies and administration at the Al-Azhar University in Egypt, one of the biggest Islamic universities, he approached his uncle for a loan to start a business.