Dangote and Masiyiwa Agree that Persistence is Key in Doing Business in Africa
Two of the top businessmen in Africa, Strive Masiyiwa and Aliko Dangote, agree that persistence is key to doing business on the continent. The two businessmen have conquered a lot of problems to build internationally recognised brands.
For instance, Dangote’s cement company faced challenges such as limited electricity, inconsistent government, and having a sale offer turned down by Lafarge. Today, Dangote Group is worth more than $18 billion with operations in 17 African nations.
On the other hand, Masiyiwa sued the Zimbabwean government for having a monopoly in the telecommunication sector and took a chance in doing business in foreign African countries. Today, Econet Wireless has operations in Africa, Europe, East Asia Pacific Rim, and South America.
Investing in Africa
With each African country having its own structures, regulations, and business environments, Masiyiwa and Dangote said investing in other African nations has not been easy.
“I did not realise how difficult it was to invest in other African countries. Rasing capital to fund my business was also a problem,” Strive admits during an interview. After leaving Zimbabwe in 2000, he moved to South Africa, realising that there were growth limitations when doing business in a small country like Zimbabwe.
The businessmen have also faced scepticism, corruption, and unfriendly government regulations. For example, Dangote said, “When I went to Tanzania and announced an investment of $400 million to build a cement plant, they said these Nigerian crooks have come again.”
However, Dangote and Masiyiwa acknowledge that the business environment in Africa has changed dramatically over the years thanks to reduced corruption and more consistent government policies.
With regards to corruption, Strive Masiyiwa said: “As a business owner, you have two learn to say no to corruption. Corruption requires two parties, so when you say no, you will have fought it.”
Additionally, Dangote said his company has fought corruption by not asking for more from the government than the it should offer.
Lighting the Continent
According to the World Bank, energy supply in Africa is still flawed by poor infrastructure, limited capacity, high costs, and inadequate reliability. Therefore, Masiyiwa believes that African nations should follow the example of the telecommunications sector and allow the private sector to provide energy among other services such as water.
In many African countries, governments have a monopoly over the provisions of energy and it is probably time they realised that they are not doing enough and, therefore, share the provisioning role with the private sector.
That said, Dangote’s and Masiyiwa’s persistence in their businesses has helped them to make a lot of change through their respective foundations. Still, there is so much more that has to be done in terms of change.
Masiyiwa recommends the need to emphasise education and skills for the sake of solving the high unemployment rate in the continent.
On the other hand, Dangote advises Africans to invest in businesses that they completely understand in order to be successful.
“If we did not understand the ins and outs of our business, we would not have made a profit during the 2016/2017 oil crisis in Nigeria,” he stated.