When a hardworking and industrious silver spoon kid in the ilk of Halima Dangote, one of the officious daughters of billionaire industrialist and philanthropist, and Afrca’s undisputed richest man, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, speaks on any topical issue that is dear to her heart, she sure deserves to be listened to and taken seriously. Halima, the Group Executive Director of her father’s vast conglomerate, Dangote Group, spoke with Jess Denny, a correspondent for APO, in an exclusive interview, on their NGO, Dangote Foundation, and other issues that have to do with the charity organization the family floated some years back. It was an engaging and revealing discourse that revealed another side of her as a humanitarian, just like her father. Excerpts….
Your foundation has obviously got a lot of influence in Nigeria, what are your main objectives for this year?
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 in 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.
Healthcare and infant mortality obviously are huge issues across the poorest countries in Africa. What could other corporate bodies do to get more involved into helping out, following your model?
The business sector is the most important in this model, and we place 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 to do it as well. All of us in the corporate world can just contribute and see how 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.
What are your proudest moments?
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.
If you had one single most important message from you personally to the world, what would it be?
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 ourselves, 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.