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Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Africa’s wealthiest man is cementing his position as Africa’s most generous philanthropist. With a fully integrated conglomerate—that has operations in 15 African countries—enjoying an annual turnover of over US $3 billion, and with a personal fortune approximated at US $11.2 billion, Dangote has decided to address the suffering of the people of his homeland of Nigeria, Africa, and the world.
From building schools and hospitals to supporting government’s poverty eradication initiatives and offering succor to victims of natural calamities, there has been no end to the philanthropist’s efforts.
His guiding mantra is ‘to whom much is given, much is required.’ Such personal conviction and drive has led hi to donate US $185 million in two years to various charitable causes, becoming the largest allocation of charitable funds by an individual or company in Africa.
Twenty-two years ago, he started the Dangote Foundation, a charitable arm of his business which he envisioned would lessen the pain of the underserved. The organization’s funds come from his private cash reserves and some shares that he has transferred from his listed companies to the foundation.
While most of his charitable work has been concentrated in Nigeria, the generous tycoon has extended his philanthropic initiatives to the rest of Africa and the world, which he says is his ultimate goal.
In the last few years, for example, Dangote spent US $6 billion in rehabilitating universities in Nigeria and equipping them with modern facilities as part of his commitment to funding the educational sector. He has also donated US $18.2 million to cushion residents in Nigeria from the effects of unprecedented flooding and to help them start anew. In a society where life is already precarious, this help could be the only tool for survival.
In Benue State, in the mid belt region of Nigeria, up to 15 villages have been connected to electricity through his efforts. And in North East Nigeria where community clashes and the rise of insurgency groups is endemic—top among them the terrorist group Boko Haram—Dangote has wiped the tears of the victims of these atrocities, among them women and children, with a US $3.3 million contribution while donating 12 trailer loads of relief items to supplement government’s efforts. The foundation has also invested in rural youth and women in businesses through a cash transfer program (micro loans) that gives them small grants of between $50 and $80 as seed capital for their enterprises, which include roadside kiosks, shoe repair shops, and catering services.
Outside of Nigeria, he has also extended his charitable contributions to countries like the Republic of Congo, where he donated US $500,000 to victims of a fuel tanker explosion that killed over 220 people in 2012. He has also given US $740,500 to help the people of Niger deal with the effects of famine while contributing US $2 million to the flood victims in Pakistan.
One of the highlights of his contributions has been working with world’s most respected philanthropist, Bill Gates, through The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to fund efforts that address Polio and malnutrition, two of the greatest threats to children in Africa.
Dangote’s wish is for people to remember him not as the richest man African but the most philanthropic, and he is working towards that, one act of kindness at a time. ■