Edited by Kerry A. Dolan
Forbes’ inaugural list of the 40 Richest People in Africa is a testament to the growing global importance of the continent. Fortunes are being created everywhere from South Africa clear north to Morocco and Egypt in a diverse array of industries, by companies that cater to local tastes or worldwide needs. The combined wealth of the 40 richest is $64.9 billion – more than Thailand’s 40 richest (at $45 billion) but less than Taiwan’s (at $92.7 billion).
See complete coverage and the full list of Africa’s 40 Richest here.
The richest among them is Aliko Dangote of Nigeria, with a $10.1 billion fortune based on his stake in publicly-traded Dangote Cement –which has operations across Africa — as well as his interests in flour milling, sugar refining and salt processing. Behind him at number two is South African diamond magnate Nicky Oppenheimer, with a $6.5 billion fortune. Oppenheimer decided in early November to sell the family’s remaining stake in diamond miner DeBeers to mining behemoth Anglo American, ending more than 80 years of family ownership. In a small world twist, Anglo American was founded by Nicky’s grandfather in 1917, making for very deep ties between the companies.
Dangote and Oppenheimer are two of 16 billionaires among Africa’s 40 richest. Egypt boasts the largest number of billionaires in Africa, with 7 (primarily from two families—the Sawiris and Mansours). South Africa, the African country with the biggest gross domestic product (an estimated $357 billion in 2010), is second with 4 ten-figure fortunes but it has bragging rights as home to the most list members—15. Egypt comes in second with 9 list members while Nigeria has 8 and Morocco has 5. Altogether six African countries are represented in the list–the other two countries are Kenya and Zimbabwe. Notable for their absence from the list: women. All 40 members are men. Their average age: 61.
One-quarter of the 40 have diversified fortunes, either through outright ownership of a conglomerate (like Egypt’s Mansour family) or via ownership of assets in diverse realms, such as Nigerian Mike Adenuga, whose fortune comes from his telecom company Globacom and his oil producer Conoil. The second biggest industry is finance, accounting for the fortunes of 8 list members, with a heavy representation from South Africa. Six made their fortunes in retailing.
Resource-hungry China directly boosted the fortune of just one list member –Theophilus Danjuma, who in 2006 sold a 45% interest in an oil block to CNOOC, China’s overseas oil company, for $1.7 billion.
The list focused on citizens of African countries –thereby excluding potential members like Sudanese-born billionaire Mo Ibrahim, who’s a U.K. citizen; South African-born Ivan Glasenberg (the CEO of commodities trader Glencore, who is an Australian citizen) and former South African billionaire Donald Gordon (who has become a British citizen and lives in the U.K.). We calculated the fortunes using stock prices and currency exchange rates from close of business Wed. November 2. To value privately-held businesses we couple estimates of revenues or profits with prevailing price-to-sales or price-to-earnings ratios for similar public companies.
We have purposely excluded dispersed family fortunes such as the Chandaria family of Kenya and the Madhvanis of Uganda, because the wealth is believed to be held by dozens of family members. We do include wealth belonging to a member’s immediate relatives if the wealth can be traced to one living individual; in that case, you’ll see “& family” on our list as an indication.