Dangote Group, the Nigerian industrial conglomerate controlled by Africa's wealthiest man, Aliko Dangote, said it proposes to invest up to $16bn (£9.8bn, €11.6bn) over the next four years to expand its footprint across the African continent.

The investments would help the Lagos-based company grow by almost a third in 2014, said Dangote, who is worth $22.1bn, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

A part of the funds would be directed to build a natural gas-fired power plant that would provide more electricity to Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation, which suffers a huge power deficit.

"We are investing $4.7bn to finish our projects in cement in about 18 countries, including Nigeria," Dangote, the company's president, told Bloomberg.

"We are also spending about $2.3bn on agriculture, which is sugar and rice."

"We are going to do a backward integration for rice by growing the crop as well as distributing it. We think Nigeria can be self sufficient in rice in the next three to four years," Dangote said.

"The only new investment we are looking at is upstream - to look for gas to secure our future businesses. We want to step in and make gas available, and this will translate into more stable power in the country," Dangote added.

"We are very, very optimistic for 2014 - we are expecting average growth of 30% groupwide."

Expansion Underway

In September, the tycoon, who made his fortune selling cement, flour and sugar, signed a $3.3bn deal with banks to finance the construction of a $9bn oil refinery, petrochemical and fertiliser plant on Nigeria's Atlantic coast.

The project, the continent's largest, is expected to be operational in 2016.

Dangote Sugar, which is eyeing exports to Liberia, Senegal and Mauritania in 2014 year, could increase sugar cane production and almost double refining capacity to 2.75 million tonnes by 2017, chief executive Abdullahi Sule said in August.

Dangote Cement, Africa's biggest manufacturer of the building material, said in April it would double annual output to 55 million metric tonnes by 2015, on the back of new production in Cameroon, South Africa and Zambia.

Nigeria is Africa's biggest oil producer, but imports most of its fuel as it lacks refining capacity.

Meanwhile, a supply of 4,000 megawatts of electricity in Nigeria provides power to only 40 million Nigerians, leaving the remaining 120 million in darkness.