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C-Suite Advisory

CEO Spotlight: Africans Building Africa; Aliko Dangote’s Conglomerate Leads Africa Best Brands For The 2nd Year Running

Aliko Dangote

Dangote Group founded by Nigeria’s Aliko Dangote has emerged as the most admired African brand of African origin for the second straight year. Respondents of Brand Africa’s 100 Best Brands survey voted Dangote ahead of telecommunications giant, MTN and other big companies and brands on the continent.

The seventh edition of the survey conducted by South Africa based Brand Africa in collaboration with the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) saw customers mentioning about 15,000 brands, and Dangote got the highest mentions when consumers are prompted to recall the most admired African brand.

From modest beginnings

Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man with a net worth of about $16 billion has an interesting story to tell about perseverance, hard work, and courage. The first time he emerged as the richest man in Africa, he noted that “I built a conglomerate and emerged the richest black man in the world in 2008 but it didn’t happen overnight. It took me thirty years to get to where I am today. Youths of today aspire to be like me but they want to achieve it overnight. It’s not going to work. To build a successful business, you must start small and dream big. In the journey of entrepreneurship, tenacity of purpose is supreme.”

From the modest beginnings of a $3,000 loan from his uncle some three decades ago, Dangote has succeeded in building probably the largest private sector employer in Nigeria with a strong presence across West Africa. Dangote Group has since grown from being an agricultural commodities trading firm to having interests in cement manufacturing, sugar refining, salt refining, pasta processing, packaging materials, property management, technology, port operations, food & beverages, and transportation.

Dangote is committed to rapid industrialization of Africa and by the third quarter of 2019, production will begin in Dangote Refinery and Petrochemical Complex where petroleum products, fertilizers, and gas are expected to be produced in commercial quantities. One of the major defining moments in Dangote’s story is understanding the need to eliminate middlemen as much as possible from his business processes. Hence, he has successfully built the Dangote brand around owning the key pieces of the value chain of every business in which it is involved.

African Brands are changing the narrative

The Brand Africa 100 rankings is based on a survey among a representative sample of respondents 18 years and older, conducted in 25 countries across Africa.  Covering all African economic regions, collectively these countries account for an estimated 80% of the continent’s population and 75% of the GDP.

Thebe Ikalafeng, Founder and Chairman of Brand Africa and Brand Leadership while speaking on CNBC’s Closing Bell observes that “…these rankings are an important metric of and challenge for creating home-grown competitive African brands that will transform the African promise and change its narrative and image as a competitive continent.  African brands have an important role in helping to build the African brand”.

In the top 100 list, the United State sports and fitness mega brand, Nike, a non-African brand retains the overall number one brand in Africa spontaneously recalled by consumers. South African telecoms giant, MTN is the first African brand spontaneously recalled while Dangote is a close third on the list of the most spontaneously recalled African brands.

However, when consumers are prompted to recall the most admired African brand, Dangote retains the number one position. Just last year Dangote brand was named the most valuable brand among the top 50 brands in Nigeria for 2018 by Brand Nigeria.

A promise being kept

Aliko Dangote who was quoted saying that “Every morning when I wake up, I make up my mind to solve as many problems, before retiring home” is doing a fine job of keeping that promise. For instance, a glance at the website of Dangote Group shows the tagline of the conglomerate as “Providing Your Basic Needs”; and from salt to cement, the company is doing a great job at meeting the basic needs of the African population.

In his reaction, Group Chief Corporate Communication Officer of the Dangote Group, Anthony Chiejina said the management was not unexpected of the ranking because the company has a long-standing reputation for quality, regulatory compliance and social stewardship.

In his words, “We fervently believe that only Africans can develop Africa, and this gives us stronger sense of relevance in all the countries where we have our operations. we are touching lives by providing their basic needs and empowering Africans more than ever before creating jobs reducing capital flight, and helping government conserve foreign exchange drain by supporting different industrial infrastructural projects of African governments…

All these are our creed and we do not compromise it; it is our way. And the ranking is just an acknowledgement of all these by our stakeholders, we keep our promises and stay authentic.”


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Sophie Ireland
Foreign Correspondent for ​CEOWORLD magazine media. Policy Advisor, writer, professional restaurant recommender, and native New Yorker. I have approximate knowledge of many things.
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