AFRICA’S richest man and President, Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, said yesterday that the company has reached where it is today through hard work and that it did not receive preferential treatment from government. Dangote stated this yesterday while presenting a lecture entitled ‘Promotion of Local Manufacturing and Poverty Reduction in Nigeria, The Private Sector Experience and Policy Options’ at the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies, NIPSS, Kuru, near Jos, the Plateau State capital. “We at Dangote Group have managed to survive in our tough operating environment in Nigeria. We started business in 1978 as a trading company before we later diversified into local manufacturing and currently, we have operations in 18 African countries. “It is important to disabuse our minds about common misconceptions regarding the success of Dangote Group, we have reached where we are today through hard work, seizing of opportunities and serious risk taking that have paid off over time, the misinformation in some quarters that we received preferential treatment from government over the years is completely false.” He also vowed to crash the price of fertilizer before the end of next year, in order to boost agricultural production and guarantee food security in the country. Dangote also stated that Nigeria’s fertilizer production would rise by about three million tonnes and would be easily accessible to farmers. He also said he supports a low crude oil price regime, stating that if the price of the commodity improves, current efforts aimed at diversifying the economy would be jettisoned. Dangote also said despite the numerous obstacles to doing business in Nigeria such as poor infrastructure, corruption and security challenges, he is positive that the country is one of the best places to invest in the world. “These challenges are part of our reality, successful businesses take challenges into account as they design their business models. Many Nigerian businesses and ours is an example of how businesses survive in this country despite these challenges. Business needs to have a survival mindset to surmount these challenges, they need to think out of the box and I am confident that the current economic recession may in fact turn out to be a blessing in disguise for us if we tackle it frontally. “We need to change the negative narrative about Nigeria and focus on our strengths and our evolving success stories. The media has a role to play in correcting often unfavourable perceptions of the international community about the country, this can help to build investors confidence and strengthen the ailing economy.’’ He also said government should
focus on agriculture, stressing that Nigeria has more arable land than China, but only 10 percent of it is put to use, renewed focus on agriculture will create a lot of job opportunities and this will in turn impact positively on our GDP. He called on government to continue to provide an enabling environment for private businesses to thrive. “Government should then take the back seat and allow the private sector to drive the economy, this is how countries develop their economies “Perhaps the biggest challenge facing entrepreneurs in Nigeria today is the epileptic power supply. It is estimated that over 30 percent of the overhead costs of businesses go into the provision of alternative sources of power and this affects revenue and profitability. Nigeria has a plethora of raw materials that can provide primary inputs to various sectors, particularly the agro allied and extractive industries.”

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