Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF), under the chairmanship of Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, was set up in 1994 to realise his vision of an Africa whose people are healthier, better educated and more empowered.
Between 2013 and 2014, Dangote joined hands with Bill Gates to work with the federal government of Nigeria to attack the lingering scourge of polio in its last bastion on the continent. Indeed, the Dangote brand has matured into an undeniable global force with the renowned Forbes magazine showcasing it as one of Africa’s most successful business enterprises.
It was gathered that, after 20 years of intense charity work across Nigeria and Africa, ADF was restructured to become the largest private foundation in sub-Saharan Africa, with a $1.25 billion endowment. It is the largest endowment fund by a single donor on the continent.
Since then, the foundation has refocused to concentrate on four key areas, health and nutrition, education, empowerment and humanitarian relief, with particular attention to women and children.
The foundation is developing the Aliko Dangote Foundation Integrated nutrition (ADFIN) programme, designed to tackle the scourge of cholera and malnutrition that claim 300,000 lives annually and cripple the future of 11 million chronically malnourished children in Nigeria.
Currently, the ADF is committed to directly reaching one million households with community-based management of acute malnutrition. It seeks better access to improved water and sanitation, improved behavioural change, livelihood support and strengthening local and national health system by 2025.
On the African continent, the ADF partners with GBC Health, One Campaign, CHI, GAIN, Africa Development Bank and a host of others to make life better across the continent. Since 2017, the ADF and GBC Health have been working together to finally birth the Africa Business Coalition for Health. The ABC Health was launched in Addis Ababa last week.
And on the global stage, the foundation, through Halima Aliko Dangote, is working to position the Africa Centre in New York, a platform employing culture, business and policy to promote trans-Atlantic exchange and partnership between Africa and the rest of the world.
Indeed, Dangote once said he preferred to be remembered as the biggest philanthropist rather than the richest black man on earth.
Halima Aliko Dangote, executive director of the ADF, represented her father at the Africa Business Coalition for Health launch. Halima and celebrated footballer, Didier Drogba, both expressed the desire to see Africans living healthier lives by having unhindered access to basic healthcare facilities. They both restated this on the sidelines at the recent African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Halima said at the event: “I grew up knowing about my father’s philanthropy, a trait which he also took over from his mother. We used to follow my grandmother to hospitals to see the sick and how they could be helped. My grandmother did not like seeing people bogged down by sickness. So, it was natural that my father would later use his wealth to help other disadvantaged people. And, to God be the glory, he has been able to touch many lives.
“Our foundation is part of this arrangement because it is involved in matters of health and nutrition. We have visited internally displaced persons (IDP) camps many times. There you will feel the pain of malnutrition, seeing children and babies malnourished. We had to go back to the drawing board to re-strategise on the form of intervention from the foundation to help.
“We discovered that when you see a malnourished child, his or her problem started from the mother. When we intervened by providing some of their basic needs, we kept going back to see if there was improvement. Of course there are always improvements, but they are never enough. That is why we came up with the ABC Health.”
She added that there was a vital relationship between health and economic growth and development in Africa, as a healthy population lived longer, was more productive, and saved more.
Halima said, “Governments from both developed and developing countries are increasingly looking at public-private partnerships as a way to expand access to higher-quality health services by leveraging capital, managerial capacity, and know-how from the private sector. Africa’s healthcare systems demand significant investments to meet the needs of their growing populations, changing patterns of diseases and the internationally-agreed development goals.”
She said the African Centre programme, in New York was designed to change negative narratives about Africa: “We need to tell the world that stories from Africa are not all negative. Though we have our challenges, good things are happening too in Africa.”
Drogba also explained his involvement in a foundation committed to good health for Africans. He said he lost a dear one because of poor access good healthcare in his home country, Cote d’Ivoire. He then made up his mind to set up a foundation that would be deployed to provide medical care for the people.
“I started DD Foundation because I love my country and I love my continent. My greatest fans are in Africa. I can’t ignore my people; I have travelled throughout Africa and I go to the hospitals; what has struck me the most has been the lack of access to health and education. And I believe it could be me, so I set up the foundation. The foundation’s objective is to empower individuals through access to health and education, which I believe are essential elements in the developmental process of communities.”
Drogba spoke further: “I think we are in a position to change the perception of the continent by the outside world. We have great people like Aliko Dangote, notable athletes, sportsmen and women who have ruled the world. We should have the desire and come together to improve the continent. Together, we can change our continent for the better.
“I built clinics in Abidjan to give access to healthcare to everyone. We did mobile clinics that move from one location to the other to provide health care services to our people who otherwise have been cut from access to healthcare. The clinic stays there for one week or more in the communities, screens the people, diagnoses them and provides basic health care. Many who are sick don’t even know, but when we screen them through proper diagnosis, they will know their health status and then take care of themselves.”