Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote and the tech billionaire Bill Gates have announced plans for a $100m (£70m) scheme to cut malnutrition in Nigeria, the continent’s most populous nation.

Dangote said the partnership between his Dangote Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation would address the problem, which affects roughly 11 million children in northern Nigeria.

The announcement was made in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, a day after both men signed a deal to ramp up immunisation programmes in the northern states of Kaduna, Sokoto and Kano, where Dangote is from.

The US philanthropist Gates, who also met President Muhammadu Buhari, said Nigeria’s key resource is its young population. About 44% of the country’s population of 170 million are aged under 14. The Microsoft founder said their prospects would be “greatly damaged if we don’t solve malnutrition”.

The new scheme will fund programmes to 2020 and beyond, using local groups in the north-west and north-east. The north-east has for the past seven years been ravaged by Boko Haram’s Islamic militant insurgency.

Dangote and Gates have previously worked together on polio eradication programmes, which resulted in the country being taken off the global list of endemic countries last year.

Nigeria is Africa’s leading economy and number one oil exporter, but poverty remains acute for all but a fraction. Average life expectancy is 52 – five years fewer than the overall rate for sub-Saharan Africa – and mortality rates for infants and children under five are high. About 31% of Nigerian children under the age of five were deemed underweight in 2013, the 12th worst record in the world.


Culled from The Guardian

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