Nigeria’s Aliko Dangote was named the richest man in Africa for the first time in history in 2011. And since that 2011 to 2021, he has held unto that position. That is 11 uninterrupted years reign as the king of Africa’s billionaires. If anyone had any doubt as to the validity of that claim it was quashed on Monday when Forbes published the 2022 list of the richest men in Africa. That list showed that Dangote’s net worth stood at $13.9b.
To become the richest man in Africa in 2011 Dangote had to dethrone the former king. That former king is Mohammed Al Amoudi of Ethiopia. Mohammed Al Amoudi held the position for two years and ended his reign in 2010 with a net worth of $10b.
But despite being the richest man in Africa for 11 consecutive years what many people don’t know is that within this period Dangote’s net worth has actually been dwindling. He has fallen from a highest net worth of $25b in 2014 to a net worth of $7b at some point. Within this period he also moved from being the 23rd richest person in the world in 2014 to being the 191st in 2021.
Dangote’s net worth when he became the richest man in Africa in 2011 was $13.8b.This represents an astronomical growth compared to his net worth in 2010 when he was worth $2.1b and ranked number 9 in Africa. Precisely, the $11.7b increase in net worth from 2010 to 2011 represents 557.1% annual growth.
That figure accounted for over a quarter of the value of the Nigerian stock exchange in 2011. It is worthy of note that Dangote listed his company in the Nigerian stock exchange just a year earlier. And many economic analysts attributed that geometric growth to the listing at the stock exchange.
HOW HAS DANGOTE FARED IN THIS 11 YEARS OF UNINTERRUPTED REIGN?
So Dangote became the richest man in Africa for the first time in 2011 and by 2012 he retained that position. But there was a slight decline in his net worth from $13.8b to $11.2b in 2012. In March 2013 he rose by almost $5b as he hit $16.1b. By the time Forbes list of billionaire for June 2013 was released Dangote made history. He became the first African entrepreneur in history to hit a personal net worth of $20 billion. And by 2014 he rose further to $25b. This was the peak of Dangote’s net worth during this period of his reign. He has never had a better year than 2014.
THEN BEGAN THE DECLINE IN DANGOTE’S NET WORTH
Dangote’s net worth dropped by over $10b to $14.7b in 2015. According to Forbes, Dangote ended the year 2015 as the greatest loser among all the billionaires losing over 41% of his net worth at a go. In 2016 he manged to gain about $700m to end the year with $15.4b. 2017 was another bad year as he fell further to $12.2b. This was one of the lowest ending of a financial year for Dangote. And that was also the first time he fell outside the top 100 world billionaires since he became the Africa’s number one.
The fluctuation continued with Dangote moving to $14.1b in 2018. Though Dangote still maintained his position as Africa’s richest man, he however fell to 100 on the global billionaire ranking. 2019 saw his net worth at $16.7b and 2020 was perhaps the most fluctuating year for Dangote. It was difficult to track his exact worth in 2020 because of the fluctuations. Unconfirmed report had it that he had a miserable run that culminated with his net worth hitting $7.4b in April 11, 2020. But he still manged to end the year with a net worth of $10.1b.
Dangote’s networth in 2021 according to confirmed Forbes list of billionaires was $11.5b. With that value he ended the year 2021 in 191st position on the global ranking.
WHY THE DECLINE AND FLUCTUATION IN DANGOTE’S NET WORTH?
1. Fall in stock prices
Over the years Nigerian stocks have been on a free fall. Many now consider investment in shares particularly at the Nigerian Stock Exchange as an old system of investment. Many people are still mourning how their life earnings were suddenly wiped out when the shares of most companies crashed in 2008.
Dangote’s net worth suffered seriously from this. Apart from his personal stock most of Dangote’s wealth are tied to his 85.2% stake in the stocks of Dangote Cement. As at 2014 when his net worth rose to 25 billion dollars it was largely due to the performance of the shares of Dangote Industry Limited. The company had just expanded to many more African countries and the share was trading at N215. But the situation later changed as the share price dropped as low as N165 in 2015 when the major decline in Dangote’s net worth started.
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2. Devaluation of Naira and fall in the price of oil
In November 2014 the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor announced an almost 10% devaluation of the naira. This came after he openly admitted that a plunge in world oil prices and dwindling dollar reserves were making it difficult to defend the value of the naira. The devaluation knocked off about $40 billion from the value of the Nigerian economy. Many businesses and billionaires suffered as a result but no one lost more than Nigeria and Africa’s richest man. A forbes report pegged his loss at $7.8b. Till today the devaluation of the naira has continued unabated with the latest devaluation of 14.78% happening in the last business day of 2021. All investments and naira based assets are not finding it funny and that includes Dangote who has majority of his investment locked in the Nigerian naira.
3. Exchange Rate
Dangote cement is trading at 284.9 naira today. This represents almost 73% increase from the 165 naira it was trading as at December 2014 to 2015. This is supposed to be a great news for Dangote but it is not reflecting in his net worth. In reality Dangote is poorer today than he was in 2015 because of the exchange rate.
As at December 2014 the exchange rate was 165 naira to a dollar. This means that the share price of Dangote cement in international market will be exactly $1. But today’s share price of N284.9 it will translate to about 68 cent given that the exchange rate is now $1 to N415.3. So no matter how much Dangote makes in naira his competitors at the global level are earning in dollars and it might be tough for him to compete.
So whereas Dangote share price is going up in naira but he is competing at the international market where everyone’s net worth is valued in dollars.
4. Political climate
The noise that followed the build up to 2015 general election and the fears generated did not also help the investment climate in Nigeria. There was general uncertainty to the build up of that election. Most foreign investors pulled out their investments. Even after the election, the political climate in Nigeria has been hot with insecurity challenges and different protests affecting businesses.
5. Nature of business
Dangote over the years has concentrated his business in the traditional businesses of buying and selling then he migrated to manufacturing. Though he is into the manufacturing of essential commodities which is guaranteed to be successful, but it can’t be a coincidence that of the top 10 richest men in the world 8 of them are into tech. The truth remains that though every industry has got its own potentials but tech is going to lead the way for a long time. Tech is the easiest business to scale anywhere in the world.
I imagine that if any of Dangote’s investment has been in tech he will probably be among the top 10 today. To put this in perspective, Mark Zuckerberg was not yet born in 1981 when Dangote first became a millionaire and incorporated 2 companies. By the time Dangote became the richest man in Africa in 2011 he ranked 51st globally with a net worth of 13.8 billion dollars.
That year a 26 year old Mark Zuckerberg emerged and joined the list of billionaires. He was exactly one step behind Dangote, ranking 52nd globally with a net worth of 13.5 billion dollars. But as at today Mark Zuckerberg has worked his way to the 5th richest man in the world. Mark Zuckerberg’s net worth of $125b today is almost 10 times Dangote’s net worth.
I doubt if Mark has worked harder than Aliko. I also doubt if he is a smarter entrepreneur. But he is playing in an industry that currently leads the way. Maybe Dangote could consider doing more in the area of tech. I have written an article to show exactly how Dangote and Dangote has gone exactly in the opposite direction in the last 10 year.
WILL DANGOTE’S NET WORTH BOUNCE BACK SOON?
I think he will. The signs are quite good for Dangote right now. The much heralded refinery he started building in 2016 is almost ready. There are very encouraging reports emerging from the Lekki Free zone refinery. One of them is that when completed it could possibly be the largest refinery in the world. Also that refinery alone may have the capacity of meeting the need of the Nigeria market. Multiple reports has quoted Aliko Dangote himself as saying that the refinery will start operations in 2022 H2. Most local analysts has said that if everything goes to plan then the 65,000 barrel per day refinery could help push Dangote among the very richest men in the world. But only time can tell how soon he can go beyond the 25 billion dollar mark he hit in 2014.
However, no matter how well the refinery fares and which position it shuts Dangote in the global ranking I don’t see Dangote maintaining his position as Africa’s richest man in the next 5 to 10 years. Yes, young tech entrepreneurs are seriously coming and their introduction to that list may just be as sudden as that of Mark Zuckerberg.
Incidentally the difference between Dangote’s net worth in 2011 when he first became the richest man in African and today is just $100m. That is from $13.8b in 2011 to $13.9b in 2022. This is nothing when compared to Mark Zuckerberg who has added over $110b within the same period.
But until Nigeria and Africa’s tech entrepreneurs prove that they can, for now, we must all celebrate the consistency of this business mogul over the last 11 year.