Archive for July 20, 2012
Mohammed Al-Amoudi is literally a man of many parts; born in Ethiopia to an Ethiopian mother and a Yemeni father, Al-Amoudi grew up in Saudi Arabia, yet he is the largest individual investor in Sweden.
To date, Al-Amoudi still remains intensely loyal to his Ethiopian roots, and his multi-billion dollar investments in Ethiopia’s agricultural sector illuminate his devotion to the African country of his birth. But his fame and extraordinary fortune is not in Ethiopia, but in Saudi Arabia and Sweden.
When he was 19, Al-Amoudi migrated from Ethiopia to Saudi Arabia with his family. In Saudi Arabia, the young Al-Amoudi built a personal relationship with the Kingdom’s ruling family. As a result, in 1988 he cornered an important contract to build the Saudi government’s $30 billion nationwide underground oil storage complex. That contract cemented his fortune and instantly made him a billionaire.
Al-Amoudi eventually returned back home to Ethiopia in the mid-1980s and founded Mohammed International Development Research and Organization Companies (MIDROC), a diversified holding company which he used to gobble up gold mines from the government at a fraction of their real market value. Today, MIDROC Gold is Ethiopia’s exclusive gold exporter. One of its mines, called Legedenbi, has annually produces close to 5,000Kg of gold and silver.
Apart from mining, Al-Amoudi invested in several other sectors of the Ethiopian economy. He built the Sheraton Hotel in Addis Ababa, which is the country’s foremost 5-star hotel. He acquired 70 percent of Ethiopia’s National Oil Corporation and founded Tossa, Ethiopia’s first industrial steel production plant, which is expected to produce at least 1.9m tonnes of steel per annum as from 2014.
Al-Amoudi’s other holdings in the country include a 69 percent stake in Addis Tyre, Ethiopia’s sole manufacturer of Tyres; Saudi Star Agricultural Development Plc, which is developing 1,200,000 acres of Ethiopian land for the production of rice, sugar, wheat and other commodities.
The bulk of the Sheikh’s business success has also been built around Sweden. In 1994, Al Amoudi spent $750 million in acquiring Sweden’s largest integrated energy company, OK Petroleum, and subsequently renamed the company Preem Petroleum. He invested heavily in extending the capacity of its refineries, substantially increasing the number of its gas service stations around the country and acquiring more deep offshore assets.
In 1999, Al-Amoudi’s Swedish-registered investment company, Corral, acquired a controlling interest in two Moroccan oil refining companies- Samir and SCP. Al-Amoudi merged the two companies and further invested half a billion dollars in modernizing the plant. Today, Corral is the undisputed market leader in Morocco’s Energy sector, both in distribution and refining.
Al-Amoudi’s empire built around construction, mining and oil employs over 40,000 people in Sweden, and the man who many love to refer to as ‘The Sheikh’ has given away millions of dollars to philanthropic causes in religion, sports and education in Ethiopia, the United States and Saudi Arabia.
In July 2010, he financed the creation of the Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi Center for Breast Cancer Research at King Abdulaziz University in Saudi Arabia. He is also one of the largest donors to the William J. Clinton foundation, and has fully funded the King Abdullah Institute for Nanotechnology at King Saud University.
Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Ali Al Amoudi (Ge’ez: ሞሓመድ አልአሙዲ, Arabic: محمد حسين العمودي; born 1946 in Dessie, Ethiopia but grew up in Weldiya) is a Saudi Arabian /Ethiopian business magnate who lives in Ethiopia and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. In 2006 his net worth was estimated as between $2.5 and $6.9 billion, causing Arabian Business to rank him as the world’s 8th richest Arab, and Forbes to rank him as the world’s 77th richest person. Al Amoudi’s father is Yemeni and his mother is Ethiopian. He immigrated to Saudi Arabia in 1965 and became a Saudi citizen. Depending on disparate ethnic categorizations, and Al Amoudi’s mixed Ethiopian and Yemeni parentage, he is considered to be the richest black person in the world and/or one of the richest Arab.
Al Amoudi made his fortune in construction and real estate before branching out to buy oil refineries in Sweden and Morocco. He is said to be the largest foreign investor in both Sweden and Ethiopia. He holds an Honorary Doctorate in Philosophy from the Addis Ababa University and has been honoured with the Swedish RoyalOrder of the Polar Star by King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden.
Source: Ventures Africa
By Armin Rosen - Armin Rosen is an Atlantic Media fellow.
Shrewd, brutal, and a master at soliciting and spending aid money, Prime Minister Zenawi’s 20 years of rule could be nearing its end.
Following the news of the past few years, you might get the impression that flamboyance and bellicosity are signature traits of any long-tenured dictator. But for every Muammar Qaddafi there’s a Meles Zenawi, the shrewd, technocratic Prime Minister of Ethiopia. Inside of the country, he’s known for imprisoning his political opponents, withholding development assistance from restive areas, stealing elections, and cracking down on civil society NGOs. In the rest of the world, he’s often praised for his impressive economic record, though not for his human rights. Zenawi has attracted Western support by being a responsible steward of aid money, a security partner in a rough region, and a G20 summit invitee.
Now, both his supporters and his detractors may have to contemplate a future without him. Zenawi is in a Brussels hospital with an unspecified stomach ailment that may or may not be fatal, depending upon what news reports you believe. Today, a government spokesperson announced that Zenawi would be taking a leave of absence from running the country, which he’s led since 1991.
From a human rights perspective, Zenawi’s rule has been abusive, heavy-handed, and self-interested.. Still, his apparently earnest dedication to sustainable development has long attracted international donors, whose money has benefited Ethiopia while propping up his regime. Zenawi, has fostered a friendlier environment for foreign investment. Between 2000 and 2010, Ethiopia’s GDP enjoyed a staggering average annual growth rate of 8.8 percent — China-like numbers. The country’s public sector is hardly clean of corruption, but the Ethiopian state isn’t as mismanaged or as predatory as others in the region. It ranks 120th out of 183 governments on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions index, not exactly Scandinavian but still ahead of such regional leaders as Kenya, Uganda, and Nigeria.
Under his leadership, Ethiopians have suffered from a lack of human, civil, and political rights. At the same time, their country has earned a reputation as a place where aid money can be responsibly and effectively spent. “The U.S. assistance portfolio in Ethiopia remains one of the United States’ largest and most complex in Africa” according to an online U.S. government profile of the roughly $2.1 billion in aid the U.S. has sent to Ethiopia since 2010. The World Bank helps fund over $ 4.4 billion worth of projects in the country.
This is the paradox of Zenawi’s legacy. He has done much to simultaneously help and hurt his people, with just the kind of quiet skill that you hope to see in a benign leader and dread in a malevolent one. If he never returns to office, should he be remembered as the technocrat behind Ethiopia’s amazing economic rise, or the brutal strongman who resisted democracy as much of Africa adopted it? Though one did not necessarily require the other — a kinder, gentler Zenawi might have overseen even better growth — the same character might inform both sides of his rule.
“When I meet with Prime Minister Meles and [Ugandan] President [Yoweri] Museveni, I feel like I am attending development seminar,” rockstar development economist Jeffrey Sachssaid in a 2004 speech. “They are ingenious, deeply knowledgeable, and bold.” Magnus Taylor, the managing editor of the Royal African Society’s renowned African Arguments blog, wrote about Zenawi’s ability to dazzle foreign investors at the World Economic Forum in Addis Ababa this past May, while challenging the democratic world’s seemingly dogmatic belief in the causal relationship between political freedom and economic dynamism:
Sitting astride this economic growth, and taking pride of place at this year’s WEF, was Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. In an event that boasted such political heavyweights as former British PM Gordon Brown, and private sector luminaries like the Ivorian boss of The Prudential, Tidjane Thiam, whose $600 billion worth of assets makes Ethiopia look like a minnow, I was surprised by how much Meles came out as the dominant figure. A fiercely intelligent man, with a grasp of figures redolent of Brown (whom Meles referred to as ‘Prime Minister’ throughout) he seemed totally in his element. Perhaps it was the nature of the audience. He was never going to have to field too many tricky questions about Ethiopia’s political space, (un)free press or tight government control over telecommunications and banking in front of a room full of CEOs and fellow technocrats.One senses that in certain crowds his statement that “there is no direct relationship between economic growth and democracy” would have got him in to trouble – important players were gnashing their teeth at this but Meles, kingpin of Western policy in the Horn of Africa, knows exactly how much he can loosen his Marxist instincts without upsetting his donors.
The World Economic Forum was one of Zenawi’s last public appearances. Even if he survives his illness, there is currently no public timetable for his return to Addis Ababa. As dictators across North Africa and the Middle East can no longer take their survival for granted, it’s worth wondering whether Zenawi will be the model for the next generation of enlightened, western-coddled autocrats — or one of the last of a literally dying breed.
Source: The Atlantic