Aliko Dangote
Alhaji Aliko Dangote. Photo: Wale Olajumoke

Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, has said that he is not a lavish person who likes to show off his wealth, adding that he drives himself around on weekends.

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The Nigerian billionaire also said that he is extremely shy about having to disclose how much he has.

Dangote told Bloomberg that his refinery which is still under construction will be completed before the last quarter of 2017.

CEO Dangote group also said that upon completion of this refinery, he would take over Arsenal football club.

See excerpts of the interview below:

Speaking on his refinery in 2017, he said the refinery would be among the largest refineries in the world and it would refine 650,000 daily.

“We didn’t really realize that we were going to need almost 70 million cubic meters of sand. But we are catching up, and I’m sure we’ll be able to deliver it by the last quarter of 2017.

“We have actually never failed in delivering any project. We always deliver our projects on time and at cost. If we hadn’t delivered our projects on time, that would be something. We will definitely deliver, by the grace of God.”

He also referred to the existence of the project as a lifetime fulfilment, backing it up with his life.

“We are using our own money. This is my lifetime project. I have to back it up with my own life to make sure it is delivered. I know that, yes, it’s true, a lot of people have tried to deliver on refineries in the past, mostly governments. They couldn’t.”

Dangote reveals his big vision in 2025, as having investments worth $50 billion in the US and Europe.

“Beginning in 2020, 60% of our future investments will be outside Africa, so we can have a balance. We are looking at petrochemicals but can also invest in other companies.

“Let’s say that by 2025, I’m looking at between $20 billion and $50 billion. Mind you, we don’t do small things.”

Knowledge from mentors in the United States

“I never worry about being too bold. In business it’s good to be aggressive, but with a human face.

“I thought at first I was really aggressive until I watched this show, The Men Who Built America. I realized that actually they were much bolder than us. Someone like Vanderbilt, he built 50,000 miles of rail! That is a very bold move. That’s why anything we do, we don’t do it small. If there’s any human being who has done this equally, I am equal to the task to do the same. I actually have a sign on my desk that says, ‘Nothing is impossible’.”

Too late to join the telecoms

Aliko Dangote has allayed interest in investing in the telecoms sector, stating that he is too late to join the competition.

“When I look at telecom, for instance, I think that would be very tough for us. We are a little late. Some players have been in this market for 17 years already. There’s no way you can go and jump over somebody after 17 years of their hard work. So I think we would pass when it comes to telecom today.”

Dangote eyes tech

The businessman expresses desire to join the tech world in the nearest future.

“Look at the US, the way the tech companies are getting massive. And it’s still nothing compared to the GEs, yet those don’t get that kind of valuation. I wish that we’d entered tech, but our concentration has always been in Africa.”

I will go after Arsenal – Aliko Dangote

“I don’t want to go after Arsenal until I deliver the refinery. Once I deliver, I will go after Arsenal.

“I don’t change clubs. Even when Arsenal isn’t doing well I still stick by them. It’s a great team, well-run. It could be run better, so I will be there. I will wait. Even if things change I will take it and make the difference going forward.”

Integrity is a long-term goal

Dangote also revealed one of his major ‘headaches’ as finding people who are very honest and have integrity.

“In Africa, you normally need to know who you’re dealing with. You have to make sure you’re dealing with very honest people who have integrity—that’s why we have so few partnerships. Dangote itself has plenty of headaches to take care of.”

Hates wasteful spending

In his words, he is not someone who likes to throw money away and he drives himself during the weekends, whenever he is in Lagos.

“I’m not a person who just likes to throw away money. I spend more money on charitable things than myself. I actually don’t have any home outside Nigeria. I stay in hotels. Quiet. Simple. My life is not very lavish, and I actually get very embarrassed if I try to show that I have money.

“In Lagos, I drive myself around on weekends. I ask my driver to go rest, and then I drive myself around. I still visit my normal friends I grew up with. My house is open 24 hours a day for them. I mingle with everybody. That’s the only way to get to know what’s going on.”