Africa's Richest 5
Africa’s Richest 5

Africa’s Richest 5

The lucky people generally categorised as ‘HNWI’ are individuals with more than $1m of liquid financial assets available for investment. Those who have $30m or more are classified as ultra-high-net-worth individuals. This wealth can include equities, bonds, cash and deposits, fixed-income products, property, alternative assets and business interests. Emerging market experts say the continent as a whole has at least 200 dollar billionaires, with 40 of the top wealthiest people in Africa coming from eight countries. South Africa, the continent’s economic giant, is home to 12 of Africa’s 40 richest, according to Forbes, followed by Nigeria, with 11. Egypt comes next with eight and Morocco has five. Africa’s HNWIs made history in 2012 when two women took their place for the first time in the 2012 annual Forbes rich list, among the 10 newcomers. The highest ranking, Nigerian oil tycoon Folorunsho Alakija, made her debut in 24th place, and by some calculations is now also the richest black woman in the world, and the other, Isabel dos Santos of Angola, entered at number 31. Aliko Dangote of Nigeria topped the list for the second year running. According to Forbes, the combined worth of the top 40 is $72.9bn, up 12% on the previous year. The list includes only Africans living in the continent and thus excludes the Sudanese-born billionaire Mo Ibrahim, who is a UK citizen, and the Egyptian citizen Mohamed al-Fayed, who lives in London. Alexa Dalby profiles some of Africa’s wealthiest.

Aliko Dangote | Nigeria | $12bn Source of wealth: self-made

Aliko Dangote made his fortune trading in commodities such as flour, sugar, salt and cement and is branching out into telecoms. The Dangote Group, originally a small trading firm founded in 1977, is now a multi-trillion naira conglomerate and has moved from being a trading company to Nigeria’s largest industrial group including with interests in 14 countries, and expanding outside Africa. At the end of 2012, Dangote joined forces with the US’s richest man Bill Gates to work on eradicating polio in Nigeria. Dangote is the richest black man in the world and Ernst & Young West African Entrepreneur of the Year 2012.


Nicky Oppenheimer AND FAMILY | South Africa | $6.8bn Source of wealth: inherited

Once again Nicky Oppenheimer comes in at second richest, though with a fortune down $100m from a year ago. In late 2011 he sold his family’s 40% stake in diamond producer De Beers to mining company Anglo American for $5.1bn. The deal got regulatory approval in July 2012, marking the end of 85 years of Oppenheimer family control. He also owns Tswalu Kalahari Reserve, the largest private game reserve in South Africa.


Johann Rupert and family | South Africa | $5.7bn Source of wealth: inherited and growing

Johann Rupert’s net worth grew $1bn in the past year, mainly from his three central investments, Remgro, Reinet and Richemont. Richemont, the Swiss luxury group, owns Cartier, Dunhill, Chloe bags and Mont Blanc pens. The company purchased online fashion portal Net-a-Porter. Remgro, his South African holding company, purchased VenFin in 2010. He also owns Rupert & Rothschild and L’Ormarins wine estates, and one of South Africa’s most exclusive golf clubs. Like his father, the late business tycoon Anton Rupert, he is a conservationist and in addition to personally conserving about 25,000 hectares in the Graaff Reinet area is also Chairman of the Peace Parks Foundation.


Nassef Sawiris | Egypt | $5.5bn Source of wealth: inherited and growing

Businessman Nassef Sawiris is the son of Onsi Sawiris, patriarch of the Sawiris family, founder of the Orascom conglomerate, whose companies in construction, telecoms, tourism, science and technology, and industry are run by his three sons, Naguib, Nassef and Samih. Orascom is involved in tourism development, telecommunications, construction and other fields. Nassef is now the richest of the family, ahead of his father and two brothers. He took over leadership of Orascom’s construction and fertiliser division in the late nineties and sold its cement business to Lafarge in 2007, although he still owns a stake and sits on the French company’s board. He is also the largest shareholder in Texas Industries.


Mike Adenuga | Nigeria | $4.6bn Source of wealth: self-made

Mike Adenuga made his money in telecommunications with Globacom, a carrier that recently launched its 4G network and has also invested in the submarine cable connecting Nigeria to the world. He started selling lace and Coca-Cola, but he finally won a contract to build military barracks in the late 1980s. Adenuga also has a stake in the Equitorial Trust Bank, and is the chair of Conoil. He donated $3.2m to flood relief in Nigeria.

Africa’s Richest Women

Folorunsho Alakija – from ‘rag trade’ to riches

Forbes puts Folorunsho Alakija’s self-made wealth at $600m, making her 24th on its list. However, taking the value of her 617,000-acre Nigerian oil block into account, Ventures Africa calculates her worth instead at $3.3bn. This makes her not only richest African woman, but, by this calculation, the richest black woman in the world, worth $500m more than US entertainment icon Oprah Winfrey’s $2.7bn.

Alakija is the founder and owner of Famfa Oil, which owns a 60% interest in OML 127, an offshore oil field that produces around 200,000 barrels of oil per day, worth an estimated $6.44bn. She owns at least $100m in real estate and has a $46m private jet.

She started her career as a secretary and then fashion designer, selling high-end clothing to prominent Nigerians such as Maryam Babangida, wife of the then president. In 1993, Alakija applied for an allocation of an Oil Prospecting Licence (OPL), which was granted to her company, Famfa Limited. She had no expertise or experience in running an oil field, but she decided not to sell off her licence as many others did. In 1996, she entered into a joint venture agreement with Star Deep Water Petroleum Limited (a subsidiary of Texaco) and appointed it as a technical adviser, transferring 40% of her 100% stake.

In 2012 she won a seven-year legal battle with the government to retain her 60% stake in one of Nigeria’s most prolific oil blocks. Modupe Alakija, her husband, is the chairman of Famfa Oil. Her four sons run the company.

Isabel dos Santos – buying back Portugal

Isabel dos Santos, a daughter of Angola’s President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, is an entrepreneur and investor. She joins Africa’s 40 Richest for the first time, in 31st place with a value of $500m, after having increased her private equity firm’s stake in Portugal’s ZON Multimedia, a cable TV and internet company, to nearly 19%.

A separate entity she controls owns an additional 10% of ZON. Dos Santos is also an investor in Banco BPI of Portugal, and a board member and investor in Banco BIC Portugues, which recently acquired Banco Portugues de Negocios, a nationalised bank.

With interests in oil and diamonds, Isabel dos Santos also owns shares (with the Portuguese businessman Américo Amorim) in an Angolan cement company Ciminvest, which owns 49% of Nova Cimangola; the state owns 40.2%, the Banco Africano de Investimentos 9.52% and smaller shareholders the rest. She is married to another millionaire, Sindika Dokolo, originally from Congo-Kinshasa. Dokolo sits on the company’s board.

Dos Santos studied engineering at King’s College in London. In 1997, at 24, she started her first business by opening the Miami Beach Club, one of the first night clubs and beach restaurants on the Luanda Island. In the early 1990s, in Luanda, she started working as a project manager engineer for Urbana 2000, a subsidiary company of Jembas Group, which won the contract for cleaning and disinfection of the city. Over 20 years she expanded her business interests and this led her to create several holdings, in Angola and mostly abroad, and to make substantial investments in a series of prestigious enterprises, especially in Portugal. Her father has been President of oil-rich Angola since 1979.

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Written by African Business Magazine

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