Samaila Zubairu, the President and CEO of the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), is a driving force for change and development in Africa. During his tenure at the AFC since 2018, he has overseen significant growth, with the institution’s balance sheet now exceeding $12 billion, surpassing his initial target. Zubairu’s passion for making a difference is evident in his leadership style and commitment to transforming the African continent.
Zubairu’s journey in finance began with auditing remote assets for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, an experience that left a lasting impression on him. Witnessing poverty in an area rich in resources ignited his desire to address inequality and drive change. This memory fuels his energy and mission to make a positive impact in Africa.
Throughout his career, Zubairu has aimed to demonstrate that Africa is not a charity case but a viable business opportunity. AFC, under his leadership, has distributed over $600 million in dividends to shareholders over 15 years, reinforcing the notion that investments in Africa yield substantial returns.
Zubairu’s career includes stints at Denham Management Company, FSB (now Fidelity Bank), and Liberty Merchant Bank. While at Liberty Bank, he played a pivotal role in setting up the investment banking division, working with clients such as Aliko Dangote to strategize expansion into manufacturing, a journey that laid the groundwork for Dangote’s industrial empire.
His commitment to local content, political engagement, and economic competition was evident during Dangote’s bid to acquire Benue Cement Company, which involved competing against major foreign players. Although they were successful, they were ultimately denied the acquisition due to being a trading company.
Zubairu’s contributions to Dangote Group’s strategic growth led to his appointment as treasurer and later as CFO. He played a significant role in the company’s transformation into a continental powerhouse, with listed subsidiaries on the Nigerian bourse and large project finance facilities.
After leaving the Dangote Group, Zubairu founded Africapital Management Limited, where he continued to advise on energy and industrialization projects, making a significant impact on infrastructure development in the region.
His journey eventually led him to become the CEO of AFC, where he saw an opportunity to create significant improvement at scale, impacting not just a few companies but entire countries and the continent. Zubairu’s leadership at AFC reflects his commitment to driving transformative change in Africa’s economic landscape.