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Meet The Woman Who Brought Dangote To Zimbabwe

I’m a 32-year-old businesswoman and TV host or presenter for Click Africa, a magazine show on Mnet’s Africa Magic channel. The show is produ...

I’m a 32-year-old businesswoman and TV host or presenter for Click Africa, a magazine show on Mnet’s Africa Magic channel.

The show is produced by my husband, Jide Agbeniyi, and it profiles Africa and Africans.

I have always been passionate about promoting Zimbabwe in whatsoever capacity and felt duty-bound to assist in finding donors the moment I heard about the Tokwe Mukosi disaster.

I contacted The Gift of The Givers Foundation, begging them to touch the victims’ lives by bringing relief material. It was easy for me to reach out to them because we have had a good relationship through the TV programme.
Meet The Woman Who Brought Dangote To Zimbabwe
I was proud that I was able to facilitate their coming here and donating goods that went a long way in helping those flood victims. And then later, I felt inspired to bring Mr Alhaji Aliko Dangote to Zimbabwe.

This inspiration was founded on the fact that I have heard of and seen several investors going in and out of Zimbabwe without doing anything tangible to improve the economy.

Every time I’m in Zimbabwe, I see my fellow citizens and always endeavour to do anything within my power to improve their welfare.

I am saddened by the plight of some of my countrymen, especially as the economy is facing challenges when there is so much hope on the horizon because of our country’s great potential.

Government is working so hard to improve the economy, but cannot do everything alone. It is also up to us, individuals, to play our part. This prompted me to think of how I could help improve the standard of living in Zimbabwe.

I made moves to bring Mr Dangote to the country for over a year. I went about it silently for all this while as he is an extremely busy man. When I met him for the first time last year, his calendar was full. I never resisted or gave up, though.

I continued to push and attended most of his cement plant commissionings all over Africa, praying that one day Zimbabwe will also be considered since he plans to invest in 15 African countries.

In July 2015, he commissioned a US$610 million plant in Ethiopia and has now escalated this to US$1,3billion. On August 4, he commissioned an US$840 million plant in Ndola, Zambia. Witnessing this live made me believe that he should also come to Harare.

I knew that he was already investing in 13 countries, so I now had to put extra effort to make Zimbabwe one of the remaining two countries. But that didn’t mean it was going to be easy to get to him. His tight schedule made it very difficult.

However, once you meet him and he believes in you, everything becomes easier. He’s a very humble and religious man so I know he prays about everything before he takes any step. He later told His Excellency, President Robert Mugabe, that twice he had wanted to come, but nothing convincing came his way until I convinced him.

I, too, prayed a lot prior to having meetings with him. And I persisted, optimistic that inasmuch as he is the richest black man in the world, this is a goal I should achieve for my country. It was a very difficult task as I had to use my own resources. I travelled between Zimbabwe and Nigeria more than 10 times, and also travelled around Nigeria.

There were times when I would arrive in, say, Lagos only to find out that he was in Abuja. It would then be a hustle for my team and I to catch up with him. So, in terms of challenges, I can say it has been tough using my personal resources in my attempt to get to him. It was worth it, all the same.

I remember it was a Friday when Mr Dangote’s personal assistant called me to his Lagos office. We saw Mr Dangote after their Muslim Friday prayer. I was shocked to see him dressed in traditional attire as I had thought he always wore suits.

He broke the news to me: “God has answered your prayers. Go and fix my visa. We are going to Zimbabwe!”

It was one of the happiest days of my life!

I felt I had won a difficult battle.

It was four months ago when he accepted and we had to work on a travelling date that he could squeeze into his tight schedule. In early August, we agreed on that date, but I kept it to myself until it was almost happening. I approached Government officials to arrange all the necessary logistics when August 31 drew nearer.

When it finally became certain that he was coming, it was like a dream. I was with my husband and both of us were ecstatic. The man is a workaholic and always has a lot on his plate. Even during his visit to Zimbabwe, he had a very hectic schedule.

He left Lagos at midnight on August 30, landing here at 6am on August 31. He then travelled to Ndola, Zambia at 4pm and still left for Nigeria on the same day as he had to be in Ivory Coast the following day.
Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote, Josey Mahachi and President Robert Mugabe

That is his life.

At their meeting at State House, Mr Dangote told President Mugabe that he had always wanted to meet and thank him for all he has done to make Africa a land for Africans.

This has always been Alhaji Dangote’s message: Africa for Africans. I am glad he and President Mugabe share the same vision for the continent; that is what made the visit more special.

Mr Dangote also told the President that he adores him because he is the only African leader who can stand and call the Western world’s bluff. He also said prior to his coming, he had spoken to former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo who sent his regards.

In addition, he revealed that on a number of occasions, he wanted to come to Zimbabwe, but nothing had materialised until I approached him and he accepted my invitation because of the passion I had shown.

After the meeting, it was clear President Mugabe was very happy.

He also thanked me personally, saying I was a good ambassador given the efforts I made in bringing Mr Dangote to Zimbabwe.

What I am certain of is that all of Mr Dangote’s proposed investments will bear fruit. It’s not a hidden fact that he’s a guru when it comes to cement and other investments.

He said he had made up his mind and he will do it; nothing will change his mind. He gave his word to President Mugabe and Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, and the entire Zimbabwean nation at a press conference.

I know and believe he will do it.

The ball has been kicked to Government to play its part.

I am also happy to tell you that Mr Dangote’s team leaves Nigeria today and will arrive in Harare tomorrow. His lawyer and geologists will be led by the group chief strategist, Mr Abdu Mukhtar. I’m still here to sort logistics for the team and get the ball rolling.

I am happy that, as a woman, I have achieved this goal for my country. I just hope we will get more investors like Mr Alhaji Aliko Dangote who believe in Africa and that Africa is for Africans.

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