Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), says Aliko Dangote, may become the largest exporter of rice in the world by 2021.
Speaking at the Mo Ibrahim Forum in Morocco over the weekend, Adesina said Africa must focus on agriculture to drive growth and create jobs on the continent.
“I remember when I was minister of Agriculture in Nigeria. Aliko Dangote was there, and he was our biggest importer at the time, and he and I used to have all the time to dialogue,” Adesina said.
“One day, I was in my office, about 10 O’clock, Aliko walks in, Ngozi was minister of finance. Aliko bangs on my door and said ‘minister I came to see you’, and I said ‘what are we going to disagree on this time?’
“He said no, I have actually looked at the policies, and the policies you put in place for import substitution are very right policies. So, I have changed my business model from being an importer to being a local producer.”
Adesina narrated the role Dangote played in his happiest day as a minister in Nigeria.
“I said what exactly are you going to do. He said I will put in $300 million into producing and processing rice in Nigeria. I said yippee! I went home, I told my wife, my best day as minister,” he said.
“He comes back three months after that, he says I have changed my mind, I said ‘what in the world happened?’ He said no, I have changed my mind from $300 million to a billion dollars.
“If they continue that policy, he would probably be the single largest producer of rice in the world, in about four years. The reason why I was so excited about that is that agriculture is cool, agriculture is a business…agriculture pays.”
Adesina was named Forbes Africa Person of the Year 2013, while Dangote won the same award in 2014.
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