The #1 Thing African Billionaires Have in Common
African billionaires have significantly been celebrated for their business legacies and contribution to the continent’s economic development. Their impressive success stories, all have one thing in common – risk-taking. Tanzanian billionaire, Mohammed Dewji once noted, “Taking risks is central to entrepreneurial growth. It builds perceptiveness, patience, and analytical skills.”
From Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest person to Nicky Oppenheimer and Femi Otedola these billionaires are known to boldly put their feet into cold and untested waters. Dangote after a study trip to Brazil in the mid-1990s, shifted his focus to agro-processing and manufacturing at a time when Nigeria’s business environment was filled with so much risk. Also, his $19 billion oil refinery is a product of taking the road less travelled.
The CEO of Dangote Group noted that the business experienced several challenges that nearly led to a collapse, after investing a loan of over $12 billion. The refinery is expected to be Africa’s biggest oil refinery and the world’s biggest single-train facility, upon completion.
A look at the story of Nicky Oppenheimer, Africa’s third-richest person also highlights the importance of risk-taking. In 2011, Oppenheimer sold a 40 per cent stake in De Beers to Anglo American to preserve the family’s fortune. The billionaire who has been massively involved in South Africa’s diamond industry for a century told newsmen that “It was an extraordinarily emotional and difficult thing for us. I think it was also difficult because the family have been in diamonds since my grandfather came to South Africa in 1902.” The sale enabled them to diversify and make further investments in businesses across the African continent at a time when diamond prices dwindled.
Moreso, Femi Otedola ran into debt as a result of a sudden collapse in oil prices. According to him, “I had about 93 per cent of the diesel market at my fingertips. All of a sudden oil prices collapsed and I had over one million tons of diesel on the high seas and the price dropped from $146 to $34.” At the same time, the naira was devalued and interest began to skyrocket.
The Nigerian oil tycoon persevered and weathered the storm. He decided to give up most of his assets and shares to repay the $1.2 billion debt. He rejected the offer to restructure his oil company, Forte Oil, and started all over again. Left with two properties, and a 34 per cent stake in African petroleum, Otedola rebranded and bounced back, reclaiming his position on the FORBES rich list.
Only risk-takers will own 2023
Entrepreneurs understand that risk is a cost of opportunity and innovation, and that is why they take it. With the breakout of Artificial Intelligence (AI), like OpenAI ChatGpt and Google’s Bard, it is more evident that only those who are bold enough to take advantage of AI will rule 2023.
Industry giants like Microsoft earlier announced a multibillion-dollar investment in OpenAI to accelerate breakthroughs in AI and help both companies commercialise advanced technologies. Microsoft’s investment demonstrates its ability to take risks. Also, Google’s introduction of Bard has been described by many as its answer to ChatGPT.
The risk of AI on humans
While entrepreneurs continue to take advantage of AI, there have been calls for AI labs to pause the training of AI systems more powerful than GPT-4, for at least 6 months. This was contained in a letter signed by tech CEOs and notable figures like Elon Musk, Twitter Boss, Steve Wozniak, Apple co-founder, Jaan Tallinn, Co-Founder of Skype, amongst others. According to them, AI systems possess a human-competitive intelligence that could represent a profound change in the history of life on Earth.
They noted that AI which should be planned for and managed with commensurate care and resources has been overtaken by an “out-of-control race” to develop new “digital minds” that cannot be understood or predicted by their creators.
As we struggle to provide answers to questions like “Should we automate away all the jobs, including the fulfilling ones? Should we develop nonhuman minds that might eventually outnumber, outsmart, obsolete and replace us?” it is pertinent to state that only individuals who dare to risk the odds will occupy leading positions in 2023.
Remember, a motivational speaker Les Brown, once said, “If you’re not willing to risk you cannot grow, and if you cannot grow you cannot become your best, and if you cannot become your best, you cannot be happy.”
How AI-Controlled US Military Drone Killed Its Human Operator
A top Air Force official has revealed that a US attack drone controlled by artificial inte…