An interview with the Group Executive Director of Dangote Group by Jess Denny, correspondant for APO
Q: Your foundation has obviously got a lot of influence in Nigeria, what are your main objectives for this year?
A: One of the main pillars is health. Nutrition determines the state of one’s health and we are investing towards nutrition, specifically primary health care, and most importantly towards eradication of polio, that itself is a good example of what Public Private Partnerships should put on the top of their list. This year’s Dangote Foundation (www.Dangote.com/Foundation/) is partnering with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Nigerian government. It is crucial for us to get buy in from each state government that we partner with; so Dangote Foundation, government and B&M Gates Foundation have equal responsibilities and we do really see the impact when we each are accountable. Through impact assessment in the rural areas, studying the root causes, we are able to determine where we want to see results and how to achieve progress. The formula is working and we will keep at it as there is a lot to cover.
Q: Healthcare and infant mortality obviously is a huge issue across the poorest countries in Africa. What could other corporates do to get more involved into helping, following your model?
A: The business sector is the most important in this model, and we put a strong emphasis to really pull the business sector, like the ones here at the Health Business Forum. This thing that we are pushing to get 1% of the tax dedicated to health; we need the support of other businesses do it as well? All of us corporate can just contribute and see this would ultimately help the health sector, and I mean, the way the foundation sees it, when investing in health, it should not be considered a cost, it is a huge investment in the future generations and it’s going to cost us a lot more if we don’t start now, a lot more.
Q: What are your proudest moments?
A: I am extremely proud of being able to make a difference in this world, that collectively we are changing and influencing people to keep aiming for a better lifestyle and to take better care of their health and well-being of their loved ones.
Q: If you had one single most important message from you personally to the world, what would it be?
A: I think, every single person has a role to play, and it is important to search deeper and find ways to contribute. Ultimately it can be very little, but you have to make an effort to participate. It’s not just about saying it. It is about being honest with yourself and having the courage to walk the talk. We all live on the same planet. Our communities within our cities play a strong role in the way we live with one another. Everybody has to participate! Everyone deserves to be healthy and happy!
*Established as a charitable foundation in 1994 by Aliko Dangote, the Foundation (www.Dangote.com/Foundation/) has a mandate to realize Aliko Dangote’s vision of an Africa whose people are healthier, better educated, and more empowered. A shift towards Africans helping Africans and Africans contributing even more to the world. Dangote Foundation is committed to investing in health and wellbeing, education, and economic empowerment to help lift people out of poverty. As the largest private foundation in sub Saharan Africa, the Foundation has contributed over US$250 million in charitable funds in Africa over the past five years.