Driving the Dangote Cement brand in Africa and around the world

(Africa)  —  Meet Knut Ulvmoen, Group Managing Director: Sales and Marketing at Dangote Cement, as we profile Africa’s leading marketers, or individuals who have made an impact on the profession in around the continent.

Nigeria’s Dangote Group is ranked among the top 25 companies in West Africa by Forbes magazine, and the company’s founder and CEO, Aliko Dangote, tops the publication’s list of Africa’s 40 Richest and ranks 43rd on the Forbes 400 Richest Men list, with a fortune estimated in the region of US$10.1-billion.

His diversified business conglomerate is among the largest in Africa with activities ranging from cement manufacturing to sugar refining, flour milling to port management and logistics, real estate to poly products manufacturing. In particular, the group has focused on building local manufacturing capacity, creating large-scale manufacturing facilities in Nigeria and across Africa.

Central to that wide-ranging success has been Knut Ulvmoen, currently the Group Managing Director of Sales and Marketing at Dangote Cement. Norwegian-born Ulvmoen, whose role also includes responsibility for international trade, has been with the company for 17 years and holds a Master’s of Science degree in business. He’s a high-profile expatriate in the Nigerian community and for the past seven years has been Deputy Vice-President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Speaking at an industry event in November 2012, Ulvmoen commented: “We have done a lot in Dangote, but this is just the beginning. We are going to do more in fertiliser, petrochemicals, infrastructure building, and we will continue moving into Africa and also outside Africa. We want to show the world Africa can do it.”

Before joining Dangote in 1996 as Group Finance Director, Ulvmoen worked at Revisor-Centret, a firm of Chartered Accountants in Oslo, and at Norway’s largest computer service company; the Norcem Group.

As Group Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer of the Dangote Group between 2002 and 2007, he played a key role in strategic conceptualisation of the group’s largest expansion project, which led to the building of an integrated cement factory at Obajana in Kogi State in central Nigeria. It is planned that this will eventually have a capacity of 15-million tons a year, which would make it the world’s largest cement plant.

Ulvmoen was actively involved in the expansion of the group’s transport unit, instrumental in moving the group from an import and trading company into a manufacturing conglomerate with tentacles across Africa, and was integral to the rebranding of the Dangote Group in 2009.

At the announcement of the new corporate identity during an event in Lagos in August of that year, Ulvmoen said the new identity was necessary to reflect the organisation’s growing international status. “We are here today to celebrate the facelift of Dangote Group. The new identity will carry the group to more strength and people will respect it,” he said.

In a 2012 interview with Nigeria’s Tell magazine about the current perceptions of the Dangote brand across Africa, he observed: “They are very proud of us. Wherever we go, they are very proud that an African company can (achieve what we have) in Nigeria. There is a belief that African companies cannot do as well as others, but we have proven differently, and wherever we go people say that African companies can, indeed, do it they are very proud of us.”

Ulvmoen is bullish about the Dangote Group’s future prospects: “No one else in the world has done what we have done in the last few years. We have created jobs and more industries than anyone else,” he states emphatically.

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