“We are very bullish about Africa. Yes, there are hard times, but hard times also bring opportunities.”
This is according to Aliko Dangote, the entrepreneur behind Nigerian conglomerate Dangote Group who is believed to be one of Africa’s wealthiest men. Speaking at the Africa CEO Forum in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, yesterday, he said his business has not stopped investing on the continent, despite the current economic headwinds many African economies are facing – such as slower growth, currency risks and lower commodity prices.
In fact, Dangote explained his business is investing billions of US dollars in a number of projects, including within the commodities space.
“I think this is the greatest time for somebody – for any company – to actually move in and invest, because things are down almost everywhere and I think we are seeing we are getting massive discounts in terms of our projects.”
He added that by investing now, business people would be well-positioned in the market by the time African economies start to pick up.
“The best thing for us to do as Africans is for us to lead and make sure we give the confidence to other non-Africans so that they can actually come partner with us and develop Africa.”
Improving movement of goods and people across borders
According to Dangote, intra-Africa trade and transport need to be improved in order for the continent’s home-grown companies to become more competitive, both in Africa and internationally.
“With the way things are it is very difficult for us to produce goods, export them to Europe and be competitive.”
Furthermore, the regulations that limit the movement of Africans across borders is also a great hindrance to business, he stated.
“Take a country like Rwanda where… any African that is visiting Rwanda can get a visa at the airport. But despite that, Rwandans need a visa for 78% of African countries,” he highlighted.
“It doesn’t make sense at all.”