By Peter Egwuatu
For the ninth year in a row, Aliko Dangote of Nigeria has been declared as the wealthiest person in Africa, with an estimated net worth of $10.1billion.
In the latest ranking of the world’s billionaires by Forbes, the American global media company, focusing on business, investment, technology, entrepreneurship and leadership, Dangote’s present worth is down from his estimate of $10.3 billion, a year ago, attributed to, possibly, a slightly lower stock price for his flagship company, Dangote Cement Plc.
Africa has 54 nations, but only eight countries have billionaires according to Forbes, with South Africa and Egypt dominating not only the top 10 richest people in Africa list, but in the overall rankings with five billionaires each. Nigeria comes second with four billionaires.
Nassef Sawiris of Egypt is the new number two richest, worth $8 billion, up from $6.3 billion last year. Sawiris’ most valuable asset is a stake in shoemaker, Adidas, worth $4 billion. The increase in Adidas’ share price alone added nearly $1.5 billion to his fortune since January 2019. He also owns a significant stake in fertilizer producer OCI N.V.
In 2019, Sawiris and U.S. investor Wes Edens purchased the remaining stake they didn’t own in U.K. Premier League team Aston Villa Football Club.
Number three on the list is Nigeria’s Mike Adenuga, worth $7.7 billion. He owns mobile phone network, GloMobile, as well as oil producer, Conoil, and extensive real estate holdings. His mobile phone network, Globacom, is the third-largest operator in Nigeria, with 43 million subscribers while his oil exploration outfit, Conoil Producing, operates six oil blocks in the Niger Delta.
One member of this elite group, Strive Masiyiwa, was worth 50 percent less than a year ago, due primarily to the introduction of a new (weaker) currency in Zimbabwe, which caused his fortune to drop $1.1 billion from $2.3 billion in January 2019. Zimbabwe, which has battled with hyperinflation, had been using the U.S. dollar as its currency, but in 2019 it switched to its own currency, initially called the RTGS. When converted into U.S. dollars, the values of Masiyiwa’s stakes in Zimbabwe-listed mobile phone network, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, and Cassava Smartech, fell dramatically in dollar terms.
Nigeria’s Abdulsamad Rabiu, is in number eight position among the top 20 African billionaires. Rabiu is the founder of BUA Group, a Nigerian conglomerate active in cement production, sugar refining and real estate.
In early January 2020, Rabiu merged his privately-owned Obu Cement Company with listed firm, Cement Company of Northern Nigeria Plc, which he controlled. The combined firm, called BUA Cement Plc, trades on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, NSE and Rabiu owns about 98.5 per cent of it.
Just two of the 20 billionaires are women: Isabel dos Santos, the eldest daughter of Angola’s former president, Jose Eduardo dos Santos; and Folorunsho Alakija of Nigeria. Dos Santos’ fortune has declined to an estimated $2.2 billion, down $100 million from a year ago.