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Why Dangote cannot be the world’s richest now

By Gbenga Adebambo
11 March 2017   |   3:02 am
I know that many people would be wondering the reason for the title of this piece. I did a thorough survey and analysis of the sources of wealth of the 10 richest men in the world...

Aliko Dangote

I know that many people would be wondering the reason for the title of this piece. I did a thorough survey and analysis of the sources of wealth of the 10 richest men in the world: Bill Gates, Amancio Ortega, Warren Buffet, Jeff Bezos, Carlos Slim Helu, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Ellison, Michael Bloomberg, Charles Koch and David Koch. To my amazement, I realized that 60 per cent have Information and Communication Technology (I.C.T) as the source of their wealth, 20 per cent got their fortune from oil refinery and chemicals, 10 per cent from fashion and clothing; the remaining 10 per cent is from a blend of many things. I have been able to validate empirically even from the list of the 50 richest men that ICT is the new face of wealth in the world presently. Any wealth that is not ICT inclusive is becoming gradually unsustainable. Whatever business you are running, you must redesign it in such a way that I.C.T plays a critical role in product design and marketing.

There are three categories of wealth. These are the wealth of the land (e.g. agriculture, land transportation, real estate, hospitality etc.), wealth of the sea (shipping, oil exploration etc.) and wealth of the air (telecommunication, computer soft wares, on-line marketing, Information Technology, aviation etc.). While there are limitations to how far you can tap wealth from the land and the sea, the wealth from the air is limitless! Amazon has no single bookshop but they are the biggest booksellers in the world, courtesy of On-line sale. Entrepreneurs that will go far, tap into the wealth of the air by creating an On-line presence. It is economically suicidal for any company to neglect the importance of On-Line presence.

I will be doing a critical analysis of why I think Dangote cannot be the richest in the world. This is not a verdict but rather a clarion call for entrepreneurs to disrupt their age-long mentality and start making their businesses more sustainable and far reaching.

THE SIZE OF THE PROBLEM: The depth of your wealth will be determined by the depth of the problem that you are solving. Technology and communication has become the present world’s greatest problem. The reason why Bill Gates is the richest in the world presently is simply because he is solving the world’s biggest problem! The biggest problem in Africa is food and poverty and that is why Dangote will always be relevant in Africa.

Mark Zuckerberg is the biggest gainer in Forbes’ 2016 billionaires list of the world’s richest people, moving up 10 spots from 2015 to claim the ranking as the world’s sixth richest person. Dangote must diversify into solving communication and technology related problems if he wants to penetrate the world market. I remember last year when I had a brief discussion with Devakumar Edwin, one of the Group Executive Directors of Dangote group of companies. I advised him on the need to see how the conglomerate can align itself with global needs by scrutinizing the I7 United Nations Global goals. To be globally relevant, you need to position yourself to solve global problems.

OUR UNPATRIOTIC CONSUMPTION PATTERN: This is a hard one to say, but it is true: Nigerians are part of the reasons why Dangote cannot be the richest. Our excessive, uncensored and unpatriotic consumption pattern is killing the nation. The way we consume is central to the growth of our economy; it also affects the way we are perceived in the eyes of the world. We need a major shift and attitudinal overhaul from our destructive preference for imported goods to the detriment of our local contents. The revolution in the Japanese economy was initiated by strong patriotism of the citizens to their local goods and their belief in the superiority of their local content.

I.C.T RELATED-PRODUCTS: This might sound like an ill-informed piece of advice, but it is a fact. In order for Dangote products to have far-reaching impact, he would ultimately need to diversify into I.C.T. The least will actually be that he should see into how I.C.T can give his product a facelift.

SATIATED PRODUCTS: There are some products that you can never take more than your normal dose because they have regressive utility. No matter how much I want to patronize Dangote products, I can’t take more than my dose of Dangote spaghetti or sugar. There are some products that don’t have satiated level. Products that are technology related are in this category. For example, you can always consume more data, you can always communicate more. For Dangote to increase his worth, he would definitely need to go into products that the consumer can never have enough of.

MARKET AUDIENCE AND SHARE: The richest have the largest audience. Facebook has over one billion active users; the social network boasted 1.65 billion monthly users as of March 2016, up 15 per cent from 2015. Mark Zuckerberg probably has more influence on information technology than any one person alive. Dangote will have to design his products to have a global appeal. He is the richest in Africa because his products have been designed to appeal to Africans.

FOREX EARNING: It is very obvious that the Naira-dollar exchange rates drastically affected the fortune of the company. Until Dangote gets his own market share from Europe, U.S.A and Asia, then his value will continue to nose-dive globally. He must re-design his products in such a way to appeal to global consumers. About some few years ago, Dangote occupied the 23rd position on the Forbes’ list of the world richest. Gradually, he dropped to 37th, to 51st last year, then to 64th, to 68th and presently not even in the list of the 100 richest on the Forbes’ list! What is responsible for this downward spiral and free fall? There may be many intricacies, but the truth is simply that he is not earning enough Forex.

YOUTH INCLUSIVENESS AND CORE MASTERMIND: Adolf Hitler once said, “He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future.” The company would need to evolve an inclusive workforce that has the best all over the world. While Dangote was on his way out of the Forbes’ list of the 100 richest, a young chap was reveling in his own meteoric rise to the 5th richest. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has risen in the ranks of the world’s wealthiest people in the past years, passing not just one but two tech titans to claim his highest ranking yet as the world’s fifth richest person. Facebook has an upper advantage when it comes to the issue of youth inclusiveness. Dangote must surround himself with change gladiators, those that understand the language and the mind of the youths. He must infuse ‘disruptive’ and innovative youths into the core of his masterminds. When a management team is not youth-inclusive, new doors cannot be opened. In the Nigerian environment, it is appalling to know that the composition of board of directors and management teams is somewhat perpetually reserved for the old. If you don’t have people that think like the youth on your board and management team, then you have already lost the young generation.

My candid advice to the richest man in Africa is to navigate the emerging problems that are facing the world and see how he can penetrate global audience. I am so much excited for his foray into the Energy sector with his idea of Dangote refinery. While this will solve a nagging problem in Nigeria, he must also target the global market for I.C.T. The major problems of the world are not really food related, they are I.C.T related, followed closely by energy related problems.

The world is evolving and it is becoming more apparent that you can’t solve today’s problem with yesterday’s method and still be in business tomorrow. The easiest way to find relevance in life is by solving relevant problems. If you wish to be relevant in your village, solve the relevant problems in your village. If you wish to be relevant in your country, solve the relevant problems in your country. If you want to be relevant in the world, then solve the nagging problems in the world!

To all the youths out there, you might be local geographically but redesign yourself to be global in expression. I would like to advise Nigerian youths to equip and train themselves to be versatile in I.C.T. Informational and Communication Technology is the face of a new world order. Every youth must productively step up their on-line presence on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. The Social Media week initiative that ended last week is actually a laudable one and I will like to suggest to the organizers to make it more robust and inclusive for the next edition.