By Layi Deinde
Though with a background of entrepreneurship learning the ropes from his maternal grandfather late Alhassan Dantata, he ventured into business in 1978
A past envied by the rest of the world once existed in Africa, one of the greatest undoings of Africa is disconnection from it. About four thousand five hundred years ago, Egyptians built massive engineering monuments using over 2 million blocks, each weighing two and half tons, they remain one of the wonders of construction in the world called PIRAMYD, also Egyptians originated embalming of bodies thousands of years ago.
A good number of medieval churches carved out of monolithic rock still exists in modern day Ethiopia, they were attributed to King Lalibela who reigned between 12th and 13th century. 1,500 – 2,000 years ago, ancient Tanzanian furnaces could reach 1,800 degrees centigrade, Europeans were astonished and some learned from them.
Metallurgy and metal work out of which tools, metal works and carvings existed in Africa long ago. The several art works of Benin, Ife origin in European Museums attest to this. Africans have verifiable records of Medical practice like the use of plants with salicyclic acid for pain, kaolin for diarrhea, treatment of malaria with herbs, bone setting, bullet extraction and biomimicry technology has been with Africans from time immemorial.
The wealthiest human in history Mansa Musa the ruler of Mali empire, estimated to be worth 400 billion dollars. He acquired the wealth from the production and trade of salt and gold, world gold supply at the time was mainly from Mali empire.
He was reported to have performed pilgrimage to Mecca, in a bid to fulfill the fifth pillar of Islam with caravan said to be as long the sight can hardly see its end. One of his legacies till date is the Sankore University, Timbuktu with over 25,000 students and one of the largest Libraries. His wealth and legacies could not be sustained by his heirs.
Africa has always been two societies in one, leadership in a world of its own and the commons who has been sustained by the principle of communal system. The communal principle, the life blood of the people is the reason African leaders live off their subjects and in turn less responsible for the people a gulf is so created, the gap so noticed explains why leaders of several parts of the continent conceded their people to taken away as slaves by Europeans starting with the Portuguese around the fourteenth century who came to launch a psychological attack on the people and their culture.
Africans relegated theirs to those of colonialists, sadly we struggle in between to have a proficiency of their ways and ours, none we could muster a mastery of. Leaving us in the present precarious state where our values are almost eroded.
In Nigeria and many parts of Africa wealth generation is almost given a negative meaning as resultant from: #rituals, #embezzlement of public funds, #cheating, #miracles and anything outside the established universal ways of building blocks of fortune.
A look around the landscape is filled with wealthy people, whereas there are limited wealth generation ventures that can be linked to their names put paid to the erroneous assertion that “most wealthy people cut corners”.
Entrepreneurship on a broad scale which leads industrialization to service our ever-growing market is almost turning to a myth here and made to look like exclusive to foreigners. Whereas enterprise evolve out of desire of a people to meet specific needs.
Nigeria once had a handful entrepreneurs pre- and post-independence offering a wide range of goods and services for the huge market. It has been hectic for a substantial number of indigenous companies to outlive their founders and or promoters no thanks to harsh operating environment, policy inconsistency and internal mismanagement.
Sadly, the number of companies that is over 100 years in Nigeria are few most having a foreign background or link: First Bank in 1894, Union Bank in 1917, Alabukun in 1918, Royal Exchange in 1921, Unilever in 1923, UAC in 1931.
Businesses rise and fall the world over, that should not leave us without reflecting on how and why we have more local business collapse in Nigeria than anywhere else, considering the fact that foreign businesses manage to survive our harsh operating environment.
Everyday activities of people propel provision of goods and services to meet diverse needs of the people, it begins as an attempt to service needs like feeding, clothing, entertainment and shelter among many others. Many big corporations had a humble start to provision of demands identified, many businesses have evolved from our activities: there are the traditional types: arable and livestock farming, fishing, pottery, textile design and production, blacksmithing, mining.
Most of the listed have been practiced for long, however we have struggled to experience transformation of most of these trades into big businesses, in relation with how our population and consumption pattern grows exponentially. Need we search far for what is responsible for this?
Disconnection from where we were coming from and preference for the ways of our colonialists, accentuated by deficient leadership that pays less premium to local development, the nation almost turned to a pigsty of everything foreign. This remain one reason the local currency experiences a free fall most of the times. It is common sense, depending excessively on foreign goods and services serve no nation any good. The emergence of @Aliko Dangote into exploring the huge Nigerian market has helped reshape the business climate here.
Without his conglomerate which is indeed an ECONOMIC MONSTER and a few other Nigerian concern, the bulk of our local economy is serviced either by imports from abroad or foreign firms mostly Chinese, Indians and Lebanese who have consistently weathered the storm and survive what many local industries can not bear. I strongly feel @Dangote should be understudied by Nigerians instead of being vilified and despised.
@Dangote has just been doing what many other Nigerians refused to venture into. There several sectors or in which he has no stake but with Nigerians and foreigners, he definitely cannot be accused of MONOPOLY or OLYGOPOLY in those sectors.
He is also fondly accused of getting undue favors from successive government. Government has always offered lift for citizens since independence to grow business and have some soft landing, @Dangote is not the sole beneficiary of Government support, I feel Nigerians should devote some time and energy into probing the impact of intervention Government offers many local businesses, though Government needs to do more growing local businesses.
Though with a background of entrepreneurship learning the ropes from his maternal grandfather late Alhassan Dantata, he ventured into business in 1978 importing commodities (Sugar, Salt, Rice and Cement) trading in Nigeria from importation he raised the stake and began to manufacture some of those products he imports a clear demonstration of his firm believe in the Nigerian economy.
Layi Deinde, (@NLayiDeinde) a public commentator writes from Otta, Ogun State.