Photograph — Africa CEO Forum

Barely a week after Alhaji Aliko Dangote opened up a tomato paste factory in Kano state, Nigeria, his company, the Dangote Group, which specialises in the production of rice, cement and several other goods, has won the African Company of the Year Award at the 2016 Africa CEO Forum.

The award was presented by the Founder and President of the Africa CEO Forum, Mr. Amir Ben Yahmed, who recognised the company for achieving the most remarkable expansion on the continent in 2015.

The Dangote Group was nominated alongside Safaricom, Ascendis Health, Ison Group, Seplat, Maroc Telecom, Naspers and Sanalam.

At the event, Dangote expressed the intent he has to expand Nigeria’s sugar industry, so that the country can become self-sufficient. He admitted to the fact that times are hard economically, but that doesn’t seem to be an impediment for the well-rounded businessman. He is rolling out an investment plan, seeking to expand Nigeria’s sugar sector to make the country self-sufficient. “These are hard times, but hard times bring opportunities,” he said.

He also spoke about African trade and how it affects economic growth. In his opinion, Africa must learn the ability to connect manufacturing industries with local feedstock, from cotton growing to textile factories. “The more you trade with yourself, the less exposed you are to global shocks,” he said. This is completely in line with the position experts have maintained in the past about African trade, insisting that production of goods and services as well as local trade must occur within first, so as to develop the economy.

Also, Nigeria’s Oba Otudeko, the CEO of Honeywell Flour Mills Limited, won the CEO of the Year Award, for his achievements in the fields of development, governance (strategy and leadership) and financial performance. In his acceptance speech, he implied that Africa’s future is reliant on the patriotic African.

The Africa CEO Forum, which is the foremost international meeting for African CEOs, bankers and investors, took place on 21st and 22nd March 2016 in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. During the event themed; “Succeeding in challenging times”, discussions revolved around contributions the private sector and how this Can lead to the growth of various economies around the continent. This year’s event was the fourth in the series and held on African soil for the first time.

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