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Africa’s richest man gives $1m, not $150m, to fight Ebola

A billion-dollar foundation owned by Africa's richest man has donated 150 million Naira (about KShs81 million) to help halt the spread of Ebola in Nigeria.

A story published by Reuters on Thursday, quoting a government announcement, puts the figure at $150 million (KShs32 billion).

However, according to Mrs Adhiambo Odaga, chief executive of the Dangote Foundation, the amount donated to set up emergency operation centre in Lagos was "just a little over N150 million (about $924,000)". The centre, Odaga said at a recent media briefing, was "a key platform to launch an onslaught on the virus".

The Dangote Group, owned by 57-year-old Aliko Dangote, gave out the money as the West African nation confirmed 11 cases of the lethal haemorrhagic fever Thursday. Three people have died of the disease in Nigeria, which has killed 1,066 people in neighbouring countries.

When interviewed on the sidelines of the US-Africa Business Forum in Washington last week, Dangote called the lethal disease "worrisome" and estimated the outbreak may reduce gross domestic product in affected parts of western Africa by as much as one per cent.

Odaga said the Dangote Foundation will continue discussing other ways it could help with the Nigerian Health ministry. She added that several interested parties had contacted the foundation to discuss ways of partnering to fight the virus.

The Kenyan national, who previously served as the Ford Foundation’s chief representative in West Africa, runs the billion-dollar foundation which runs a cash transfer programme and helps build universities and hospitals

Three months ago, Forbes reported that Mr Aliko Dangote had donated $1.2 billion (Sh106 billion) to the foundation, "cementing his place as one of Africa's most generous people". The magazine lists his wealth, made largely from cement, sugar and flour, at $24.6 billion (KShs2.16 trillion).

Some 169 people are under surveillance in Nigeria, many of them infected with the Ebola virus after coming into contact with a Liberian man who took the disease to Lagos or with medical staff who attended to him. The latest are six people who came into contact with an infected nurse who fled quarantine in the capital.

The World Health Organization has called this Ebola outbreak, whose worst affected countries include Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, an international emergency. It has killed around 55 to 60 per cent of those have contracted the disease.

NOTE: Story corrected to restate the donation as N150 million, not $150 million and to include information from the Dangote Foundation.

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