Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote has said that he was not aware that Nigeria had challenges in its health system until he had a chat with Bill Gates.
Speaking at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s 2019 Goalkeepers’ event in New York, Wednesday, Dangote said that since his talk with Gates, he has been focusing on his country’s healthcare needs, particularly, enabling children to have access to nutritional food.
The Chairman of the Dangote Group said his efforts have helped to shape policy around nutrition in Nigeria.
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At the moment, the Nigerian government’s policy on food fortification makes it “compulsory for producers of certain products such as rice, sugar, wheat, spaghetti, noodles to include vitamin supplements in their products,” reports .
“When I started my foundation in 1994, I never realised we had this massive challenge in the health sector.
“Really, it was mind-boggling when we had this agreement to collaborate with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and that really opened my eyes to realise that there are a lot of challenges in health.
“At that time I didn’t have the opportunity of meeting Bill but meeting Bill changed me into a different person.
“This is somebody that has nothing to do with us in Africa or Nigeria but he is putting his money and his soul into everything.
“He is very committed to helping humanity and that really surprises me a lot and I realised that he is a simple person and I never knew Bill would be this simple. He is a very soft-spoken guy and kind hearted.
“It is very difficult to find people like Bill in this world. My only prayer is that in the next few years, I will try and give my chunk of wealth to charity to,” the Nigerian business magnate said.
Gates, who is the co-founder of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, also pointed out that his relationship with Dangote has enabled him to make inroads with his projects in Africa.
Gates recently criticised the Nigerian government for failing to improve the basic infrastructural elements needed to enhance the lives of people in the country.
According to him, the execution process of the Economic and Recovery Growth plan launched by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2017 to restore the country’s economy does not reflect the needs of the people.
“Nigeria is one of the most dangerous places in the world to give birth with the fourth worst maternal mortality rate in the world ahead of only Sierra Leone, Central African Republic and Chad. One in three Nigerian children is chronically malnourished.
“The Nigerian government’s economic recovery and growth plan identify investing in our people as one of three strategic objectives. But the execution priorities don’t fully reflect people’s needs, prioritizing physical capital over human capital,” he was quoted by local media, The Cable.
“To anchor the economy over the long term, investments in infrastructure and competitiveness must go hand in hand with investments in people. “People without roads, ports, and factories can’t flourish. And roads, ports and factories without skilled workers to build and manage them can’t sustain an economy,” he said.