Africa Business Report Marks Nigeria’s 50th Anniversary

By BBC World News

The successful series this month comes from Lagos capital of Nigeria marking the 50thanniversary of the country

London 19 October 2010. In this month's edition of Africa Business Report on BBC World News, on Saturday 23rd October, presenter Komla Dumor speaks to Aliko Dangote the president of Nigeria's Dangote Industries.

With a personal fortune put at $2.5bn, Mr Dangote is ranked by Forbes Magazine as one of Africa's wealthiest individuals. He presides over a business empire encompassing raw materials, food production and freight and his firm recently announced its intention to float on the London Stock Exchange in 2011.

In the interview Mr Dangote makes a vigorous case for Africa as the world's best emerging market, with the greatest investment potential. He claims it outstrips both India and China as a location for new business.

He tells Komla: "Africa actually is the best place to do business today...this is what we call the "real market" as we have consumption but we don't have the production base. ...Africa presents better business opportunities than China. The opportunities are there…. there is nothing that you want to do, where you have limitations."

Mr Dangote claims that with the right investment backing, Africa has potential to be transformed in a relatively short space of time and the rising wealth levels could transform the lives of millions of the continents inhabitants. He goes on to compare the situation in Africa now with that of Brazil a decade ago: "We have to have more investment in Africa. By the time that you have a lot of investment in Africa, you will be shocked to know that Africa can bounce back more than any continent. If you go back and look at Brazil fifteen years back, or twenty years back, where was Brazil?Now if you look at commodities; sugar? Brazil is number one. Pigs (farming)? Brazil is number one. Chickens? Brazil is number one.”

Aliko Dangote has this to say against the African culture of keeping firms in private hands, particularly firms that are family owned and managed: "The problem you have when you start family business, people tend to say 'I don't want people to know what I am doing, I don't want them to know how much I am making'. But then you are thinking very small. If you are thinking big, that business has to go beyond you. It means that you are looking to have a world class company. There is no way for you to keep that company as private and also have a world class company as you have to be very transparent. By taking them public, you will have audited accounts…the corporate governance will be there, which normally family businesses ...they lack. What I want Africans to believe is that this is do- able. Can we actually have a global company based in Africa? The answer is yes we can."

Finally Mr Dangote had some thoughts on the aid culture in Africa and the perceived wisdom, particularly in the west, that Africa remains a destination for charitable giving above all else:

"Well, Africa needs help but the area where Africa needs help is in terms of investment. Honestly, to tell you the truth I don't really want to see aid given to Africa at all. Because we don't need aid, we just need people to come and invest. What are we going to do with aid? We don't need it, It doesn't make any sense at all"

Also featured in this month's programme:

Cassava Beer: Egon Cossou visits a new SAB Miller facility in Swaziland where they are trialling the development of beer using locally grown cassava fruit. The problem traditionally has been that poor supply chain, high taxes and scarcity of wheat and barley has pushed up the cost of alcohol leaving illegal and toxic homebrew plugging gap in the market. Cassava beer aims to plug the gap in the market.

Round Table: Komla hosts a round table discussion on the difficulties of doing business in Nigeria with guests Dr. Ndidi Nnoli-Edozien of Nigeria's Growing Business Foundation and Yetunde Allen, managing partner, Lateral Links.

Paper Mill: Mark Eddo visits a family run paper mill in Lagos that has been in business since independence. Mark talks to all three generations of managers about how to make a success of a firm in Nigeria

Africa Business Report is sponsored by Skye Bank.