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Africa’s richest man, Dangote to diversify investments

Top billionaires across the world diversify their investments to countries with strong and rising currencies to avoid asset erosion.

Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man, on Thursday disclosed plans to diversify his investments to the New York, United States.

The billionaire will take office space in New York to help diversify his investments and avoid the risk of naira fluctuations.

The naira has in recent years, come under pressure against the dollar as crude oil prices dip leading to fall in Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings.

Dangote said he will use the New York base and an existing one in London to become more global after the completion of a $12 billion, 650,000 barrel-a-day refinery currently under construction.

“In Africa, you know we have issues of devaluation, so we want to really preserve some of the family’s wealth,” he told Bloomberg.

The 62-year-old Nigerian businessman became $4.3 billion richer in 2019 as his fortune continued to grow on the back of investments in cement, flour and sugar. With a net worth of about $15 billion, he is ranked the 95th wealthiest man in the world, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

His conglomerate, Dangote Industries, includes the Lagos-listed Dangote Cement Plc and four other publicly traded companies under the Dangote umbrella that account for more than a fifth of the value of the Nigerian stock exchange.

A member of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)-led Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), Prof. Adeola Adenikinju, warned that the naira faces big challenge ahead unless certain conditions in the economy challenging the local currency’s stability are addressed.

In his personal statement to the CBN, the Research Professor at the Centre for Econometrics and Allied Research, University of Ibadan, Prof. Adenikinju, said the fall in foreign reserves and deterioration of current account balances are red signals pointing a difficult time ahead for the naira.

The naira depreciated at the Investors’ & Exporters’ (I&E) windows by 0.49 per cent to close at N363.49/$ from N361.7/$ but the local currency has stayed around N306.95/$ at the official market. Gross external reserves declined further by 1.16 per cent to $39.24 billion from $39.7 billion at the beginning of the month. The sustained decline in external reserves led to a reduction in Nigeria’s import cover from 9.88 months.

Adenikinju explained that although the foreign exchange rate markets remain relatively stable at both the Bureau De Change and the Investors’ & Exporters’ (I&E) windows, the weak performance of the current account balances, fall in foreign reserves and the small margin between oil price and the benchmark price for oil, implies that there could be increasing pressure on the naira in the medium term if the existing conditions subsists.

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