Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man, on his ‘crazy’ $12bn project

18Jul 2018
By Financial Times Reporter
Financial Times
Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man, on his ‘crazy’ $12bn project

As a rule, I don’t get worked up over oil refineries. But the one gradually taking form on 2,500 hectares of swampland outside Lagos, Nigeria’s Mad Max commercial capital,

On December 10, 2016, President John Magufuli held talks with Dangote at State House in Dar es Salaam. During the meeting, Dr Magufuli assured Africa’s richest man that his administration will continue creating favourable business conditions for all investors in the country to help catalyse his government’s industrialisation drive. File photo

is so big, so audacious and so potentially transformative that it is like Africa’s Moon landing and its Panama Canal — a Pyramids of Giza for the industrial age.

If Aliko Dangote, the billionaire businessman behind what even he calls his “crazy” $12 billion project, can pull it off, he will go down as the continent’s John D Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie and Andrew Mellon combined. And once he’s built it, he intends to treat himself to a small indulgence: he’ll buy Arsenal, his favourite football club.

“When we finish this project, for the first time in history Nigeria will be the largest exporter of petroleum products in Africa,” he tells me, summoning the drabbest of platitudes for a project of pharaonic ambition. I am sitting with Africa’s richest man discussing his life of superlatives over Thai food on his 108-foot yacht, moored in Lagos Lagoon. Yet the image he projects is more like a modestly successful encyclopaedia salesman.

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