About 180,000 jobs will be created by the Dangote group in the agriculture sector in the next four years, Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, said at the on-going World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland where world leaders are discussing the future of the world’s economy.
President Goodluck Jonathan, one of the leaders at the forum, also said African governments must record the highest possible priority to promoting inclusive economic growth on the continent.
Dangote said: “In Nigeria, we have one of the most attractive investment policies through the framework that the government has put in place to help businesses succeed. If I dreamt five years ago that I would invest in agriculture, I will write it off as bad dream or nightmare. But today, we’re investing $2.3 billion in Agriculture, $2 billion in Sugar and $300 million in Rice.
“In agriculture, we’re going to create 180,000 jobs in the next four years in Nigeria. African governments need to invest in infrastructure, education, economic stability.”
Explaining that the situation in Africa was not as bad as being painted, the business mogul said corporate investors do not check what Africa is truly about, but base their judgement and perception on what they read in newspapers, which is not always positive.
“For instance, foreign investors wait for election to be concluded, after then, they try to check the stability of government of the day for at least two years, but then, it’s more difficult to take any decision because the tenure of the government is coming to an end, and by so doing, foreign investors are scared of incoming or incumbent and the cycle keeps going on.
“But then I don’t think there is anything to be afraid of because no government is against business; every government is pro-business. Most business risks are perceived not actual risk,” he said.
Dangote lamented that “Africa isn’t good at telling its own stories, people often rely on stories they heard from others to make their decision.
Most times those stories are not true. People always underestimate Africa,” he said.
He advised that Africa of 2050 should be a united Africa, one common market, with free movement of goods and people all across.
“As at today, an American has more access to Africa than myself taking visa issues into consideration. I would require 38 visas to visit 38 African countries outside of ECOWAS.
“The government needs to make a policy where we don’t supply/export raw materials out alone; we want to be involved. We want those factories to be set up and produce here, run it for us for about four-five years, then we can take over production ourselves.
“Majority of our raw materials have been exported, processed abroad and brought back with at least 10per cent higher than the original cost.
“Entrepreneurship entails being able to take calculated risk, strong business stamina and a large appetite for work and success. We have what it takes in Africa for people to do business and succeed. I believe in Africa’s setting for entrepreneurship, if you take the risk, the market is there.”
Jonathan said his administration was already doing a lot to enhance inclusive growth in Nigeria through policies and programmes that focus on wealth creation rather than poverty alleviation.
Asked to rank the current importance of inclusive growth in Africa on a scale of one to 10, Jonathan and all the other participants in the debate agreed that it deserved a ranking of 10.
Jonathan said: “Economic inclusion is very important and we are already taking necessary steps to improve financial inclusion in our country. Transforming our agricultural sector is one way in which we are doing so.
“We are doing all that we can to transform agriculture in Nigeria into a much more productive and job creating sector. We are also working to create more inclusive wealth through better education, skills acquisition programmes and policies that encourage the addition of value to our primary products before exportation.”
Since Africa’s population is projected to exceed two billion persons by the year 2050, he said that wealth creation and job creation must remain at the top of the continent’s developmental agenda.
President Jonathan, President John Mahama of Ghana, Alhaji Aliko Dangote and other participants in the debate agreed that the objective of achieving more inclusive economic growth will be better served if African leaders take more positive action towards boosting intra-African trade.
They said that the current situation in which only 11 per cent of Africa’s total trade takes place within the continent is unacceptable.