Aliko Dangote & The Billionaires Of Africa

Billionaire Aliko Dangote (Photo By: Getty Images)

It’s no news that many African are not only investing and building their names as they are also investing in their own countries through various enterprises. With the element of change impacting many things in the global sphere, it’s a good thing to know that this change is also impacting Africa and it’s tenacious billionaires. 

Forbes Magazine compiled a list of Africa’s billionaire for the year 2020 based on specific criterias of the individuals owning business within Africa, their net worths calculated using the stock prices and the exchange rate of their individual currencies and for privately owned enterprises the value is placed by the coupling of the estimated of revenue along with the prevailing price-to-sale or in other case price-to-earnings ratios for similar public companies. 

With this criterias in place, the first position goes to Aliko Dangote for the 9th year in a role with a net worth of about $10.1 billion a drop from his estimated $10.3 billionths year before. In 2nd place is Nassef Sawiris of Egypt with a net worth of about $8 billion a rise from his $6.3 billion. Nigeria’s Mike Adenuga is in 3rd place with $7.7 billion. One good turn, there are also women on this list, with the Angolan Isabel dos Santos with an estimated net worth of $2.2 billion and the Nigerian Folorunsho Alakija  with a net worth of estimated $1 billion.

In total, Egypt has 5 billionaires, the same number as South Africa. Nigeria has 4 billionaires while Algeria, Angola, Tanzania and Zimbabwe have one each.

1. Aliko Dangote

  • Country: Nigeria
  • Age: 62
  • Net worth: $10.1 billion
  • Origin of wealth: Cement, sugar industry 
  • Residence: Lagos
  • Education level: Al-Azhar University, Bachelor of Arts/Science

As the richest man in Africa for the 9th time in a role, he founded and controls Dangote Cement, and owns nearly 85% of publicly-traded Dangote Cement through a holding company. The company produces 45.6 million metric tons per year and has operations in 10 countries across Africa. Dangote’s riches and influence also extends to his stakes in publicly-traded salt, sugar and flour manufacturing companies. He has an upcoming Refinery that has been under construction for three years and is expected to be one of the world’s largest oil refineries once completed in the year as it is estimated. 

Common Fact About Aliko Dangote
It is important to note that Dangote history preceded him as his grandfather was also quite successful in his time as a very successful trader of rice and oats in Kano, Nigeria’s second largest city. In his interview Dangote told Forbes that while young he bought sweets and gave people to sell while he kept the profits. Business was in his blood from a very tender age.


2. Nassef Sawiris

  • Country:  Egypt
  • Age: 58
  • Net worth: $8 billion
  • Origin of wealth: Construction, chemicals
  • Residence: Cairo
  • Education: University of Chicago

Nassef Sawiris has roots in a very wealthy family tree and hails from Egypt’s wealthiest family. His brother Naguib is also a billionaire. In 2015, he split Orascom Construction Industries into two entities: OCI and Orascom Construction. He on his part runs OCI, which is one of the world’s largest nitrogen fertilizer producers, with plants based in Texas and Iowa; the company trades on the Euronext Amsterdam exchange also. Whereas Orascom Construction, is an engineering and building firm that trades on the Cairo exchange and Nasdaq Dubai. Sawiris holdings also include stakes in cement giant Lafarge Holcim and Adidas, and he sits on the supervisory board of Adidas too.

Common Fact About Nassef Sawiris
As a graduate of the University of Chicago he donated $24.1 million to the school to aid Egyptian students and fund an executive education program in 2009.
To purchase a majority stake in Aston Villa Football Club he teamed up with Fortress Investment Group’s Wes Edens.


3. Mike Adenuga

  • Country: Nigeria
  • Age: 66
  • Net worth: $7.7 billion
  • Origin of wealth: Telecom, oil
  • Residence: Lagos
  • Education: Pace University, Master of Business

He built his fortune in telecom with his mobile phone network Globacom which is the 3rd largest in the country with as many as 43 million subscribers and users and oil production,  which involves Conoil Producing, operates six oil blocks in the Niger Delta. All these have placed him in the second position as the richest man in Nigeria. 

Common Fact About Mike Adenuga 
Mike Adenuga got an MBA at Pace University in New York, where he supported himself as a student by working as a taxi driver. His first million came in at age 26 with him selling lace and distributing soft drinks.


4. Nicky Oppenheimer & family

  • Country: South Africa
  • Age: 74
  • Net worth: $7.7 billion
  • Origin of wealth: Diamonds
  • Residence: Johannesburg
  • Education: Oxford University Christ Church, Master of Arts/Science

As the the third generation and heir to his family’s fortune, he ran DeBeers, and took the company private in 2001 and ran the company for 85 years until in 2012 when he sold his 40% stake in diamond firm DeBeers to mining group Anglo American for $5.1 billion in cash in 2012. In 2014, he started Fireblade Aviation in Johannesburg. The company with its three fleet of planes and two helicopters operate chartered flights. Nicky also owns about 720 square miles of conservation land across the African territory of South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe.

Common Facts About Nicky Oppenheimer & family
The largest  private game reserve in South Africa Tswalu Kalahari Reserve, is owned by Nicky Oppenheimer. As a sports fan he plays squash, golf and cricket and notepad in his office read: “Things I must do before cricket”.


5. Johann Rupert & family

  • Country: South Africa
  • Age: 69
  • Net worth: $6.5 billion
  • Origin of wealth: Luxury goods
  • Residence: Cape Town

Compagnie Financiere Richemont, a Swiss luxury goods firm which is best known for the brands Cartier and Montblanc has Johann Rupert as it’s chairman. Formed through a spinoff of assets owned by Rembrandt Group Limited (now Remgro Limited) in 1998. Rupert also chairs the investment firm Remgro and owns 7% stake in the company as well as 25% in investment holding co Reinet, which is based in Luxembourg. In recent times he has been a vocal opponent of plans to allow fracking in the Karoo, which is a region of South Africa where he owns land.

Common Facts About Johann Rupert & family
A part of the Saracens English rugby team and Anthonij Rupert Wines, named after his deceased brother, is owned by him.
According to Rupert, his biggest regret was not buying half of Gucci when he had the opportunity to do so for just $175 million.


6. Issad Rebrab & family

  • Country: Algeria
  • Age: 76
  • Net worth: $4.4 billion
  • Origin of wealth: Food
  • Residence: Algiers

Algeria’s biggest privately-held company, Cevital was founded and is run by Issad Rebrab who is the company’s CEO. The company owns one of the largest sugar refineries in the world, that has the capacity to produce 2 million tons a year. It also owns some European countries including a French home appliances maker named Groupe Brandt, and an Italian steel mill and a German water purification company. Rebrab returned to the business world early January 2020 after serving time for 8 months on the charges of corruption which he denies completely. 

Common Facts About Issad Rebrab & family
He is the son of militants who fought for Algeria’s independence from France, and his company Cevital helped finance a biopic on the Algerian resistance hero Larbi Ben M’hidi, who was executed by the French in 1957.


7. Mohamed Mansour

  • Country: Egypt
  • Age: 71
  • Net worth: $3.3 billion
  • Origin of wealth: Diversified
  • Residence: Cairo
  • Education: Auburn University, Master of Business Administration

The family conglomerate Mansour Group founded by his father Loutfy (D.1976) in 1952 with 60,000 employees is run and overseen by Mohamed Mansour. Since 1975, Mansour Group has been a distributor of General Motors in Egypt. The Group also has exclusive distribution rights for Caterpillar equipment in Egypt and in seven other African countries. 

Common Facts About Mohamed Mansour
Between 2006-2009 he served as the Minister of Transportation for Egypt under the Hosni Mubarak regime. Yasseen and Youssef who also share ownership in the family group, are also billionaires and his son Loutfy heads the private equity arm Man Capital.


8. Abdulsamad Rabiu

  • Country: Nigeria
  • Age: 59
  • Net worth: $3.1 billion
  • Origin of wealth: Cement, sugar

He is the founder of a Nigerian conglomerate active in cement production, sugar refining and real estate, the BUA Group. Early 2020, January to be precise, merged his privately-owned Obu Cement company with listed firm Cement Co. of Northern Nigeria. The combination gave birth to BUA Cement Plc which Rabiu owns 98.5% of. 

Common Facts About Abdulsamad Rabiu
As the son of a businessman, he inherited land from his father and set up his own business in 1988 importing iron, steel and chemicals.


9. Naguib Sawiris

  • Country: Egypt
  • Age: 65
  • Net worth: $3 billion
  • Origin of wealth: Telecom
  • Residence: Cairo
  • Education: Swiss Federal Polytechnical Institute, Master of Science; Swiss Federal Polytechnical Institute, Bachelor of Arts/Science

Just like his brother Nassef, Naguib is a billionaire and also a heir of Egypt’s wealthiest family who built his fortune in telecom by selling Orascom Telecom to Russian telecom firm VimpelCom (now Veon) in a multibillion-dollar transaction in 2011. Asides that, Orascom TMT Investments is under his control as he’s the chairman with stakes in a major asset manager in Egypt and an Italian internet company, among others. He also got a luxury resort developed called Silversands in Grenada. The family’s holdings La Mancha has stakes in Evolution Mining, Endeavour Mining and Golden Star Resources, which operate gold mines in Africa and Australia.

Common Facts About Naguib Sawiris
The Free Egyptians, which is a liberal political party set at the onset of Egypt’s uprisings in 2011 was founded with the help of Naguib and in 2015, Naguib offered to buy a Greek or Italian island for the purpose of housing Syrian refugees, but sadly Greece and Italy turned him down.

10. Patrice Motsepe

  • Country: South Africa
  • Age: 57
  • Net worth: $2.6 billion
  • Origin of wealth: Mining
  • Residence: Johannesburg

As the first black African on the Forbes list in 2008, he is the founder and chairman of African Rainbow Minerals, he launched a new private equity firm, African Rainbow which is focused on African investment in 2016. His other incomes come from his stake in Sanlam, a listed financial services firm, and also his ownership and presidency of the Mamelodi Sundowns Football Club.

Common Facts About Patrice Motsepe
He’s also known as the first black partner at law firm Bowman Gilfillan in Johannesburg, and then he started a contracting business doing mine scut work. By 1994, he bought low-producing gold mine shafts and later found a good way to turn them profitable.


11. Koos Bekker

  • Country: South Africa
  • Age: 67
  • Net worth: $2.5 billion
  • Origin of wealth: Media, investments
  • Residence: Cape Town
  • Education: Columbia Business School, Master of Business Administration; University of Witwatersrand, LLB

Popularly known for transforming South African newspaper publisher Naspers into an ecommerce investor and cable TV powerhouse, Bakker in 2001 led the South African newspaper publisher Naspers to invest in Chinese Internet and media firm Tencent. The publishing company sold a 2% stake in Tencent in March 2018, its first time reducing its holding, and by 2019 the publishing company put some assets into two publicly-traded companies, MultiChoice Group the entertainment firm and Prosus, which contains the Tencent stake. By March 2014 Bekker left the company and retired as the CEO and by April 2015 he returned to Naspers as the chairman. 

Common Facts About Koos Bekker
In the summer period of 2015, Bekker sold over 70% of his Nasper shares, and he possesses a Babylonstoren estate, with nearly 600 acres in South Africa’s Western Cape region, which features architecture dating back to 1690, along with a farm, an orchard, a vineyard and more.


12. Yasseen Mansour

  • Country: Egypt
  • Age: 58
  • Net worth: $2.3 billion
  • Origin of wealth:  Diversified
  • Residence: Cairo
  • Education: George Washington University, Bachelor of Arts/Science

Hails from a family of billionaires with his brothers Mohamed and Youssef also being billionaires and shareholders in the family-owned conglomerate Mansour Group, founded by his father Loutfy (d.1976) in 1952. The company is a rightful and legal distributor of GM vehicles and Caterpillar equipment in Egypt and several other countries and he is the chairman of Palm Hills Developments, which is one of Egypt’s biggest real estate developers.

Common Facts About Yasseen Mansour
The family-owned Mansour Group is the sole franchisee of McDonald’s in Egypt, and also the distributor of Gauloises cigarettes.


13. Isabel dos Santos

  • Country: Angola
  • Age: 46
  • Net worth: $2.2 billion
  • Origin of wealth: Investments
  • Education: King’s College London, Bachelor of Arts/Science

As the eldest daughter of the former Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who stepped down in fall 2017, she was made the head of Angola’s state oil firm, Sonangol in June 2016 but she was later removed from the position by November of the same year. She ended up with stakes in Angolan companies including banks and a telecom firm while her father remained in the power seat. Currently, she owns shares of Portuguese companies, including telecom and cable TV firm Nos SGPS. According to a spokesman of hers who spoke with Forbes, she was said to be “an independent business woman and a private investor representing solely her own interests.” A court order by the Angolan court was issued to her in December 2019, freezing her stakes in Angolan companies, part of a suit about funds she owes to the state oil firm.

Common Facts About Isabel dos Santos
Nicknamed ‘princess’ in Angola, her mother Tatiana Kukanova, met her father while he was a student in Azerbaijan. The couple later divorced.


14. Youssef Mansour

  • Country: Egypt
  • Age: 74
  • Net worth: $1.9 billion
  • Origin of wealth: Diversified
  • Residence: Cairo
  • Education: Auburn University, Master of Business Administration; North Carolina State University, Bachelor of Science in Engineering

As another member of the Mansour family, he also has stakes in the family-owned Mansour Group which is the exclusive distributor of GM vehicles and Caterpillar equipment in Egypt and several other countries. The consumer goods division is overseen by him and it includes the supermarket chain Metro and he also has sole distribution rights for L’Oreal in Egypt.

Common Facts About Youssef Mansour
Youssef’s father had his original cotton trading business nationalized by the former Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser and Mansour is a founding member of the American Egyptian Chamber of Commerce.


15. Aziz Akhannouch & family

  • Country: Morocco
  • Age: 59
  • Net worth: $1.7 billion
  • Origin of wealth: Petroleum, diversified
  • Residence: Casablanca
  • Education: Universite de Sherbrooke, Master of Business Administration

He is a majority owner of the multibillion-dollar conglomerate founded by his father and a partner, Ahmed Wakrim, in 1932 named Akwa Group. He has hands on various pots of honey such as petroleum, gas and chemicals through publicly-traded Afriquia Gaz and Maghreb Oxygene. Not only is he into business but also politics as he is Morocco’s Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries and the president of a royalist political party. 

Common Facts About Aziz Akhannouch & family
His wife is also a strong business woman as she runs her own company which has franchises for Gap, Gucci and Ralph Lauren in Morocco.


16. Mohammed Dewji

  • Country: Tanzania
  • Age: 44
  • Net worth: $1.6 billion
  • Origin of wealth:  Diversified
  • Residence: Dar es Salaam

He is the CEO of a Tanzanian conglomerate founded by his father in the 1970s, MeTL which is very active in textile manufacturing, flour milling, beverages and edible oils in eastern, southern and central Africa. With operations in at least six African countries and with ambitions to expand to several more, it’s no wonder that Dewji is Tanzania’s only billionaire. In 2016, signed the Giving Pledge where he promises to donate at least half his fortune to philanthropic causes. He was reportedly kidnapped at gunpoint in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in October 2018 and released after nine days.

Common Facts About Mohammed Dewji
Also known as Mo which is short for Mohammed, he launched Mo Cola several years ago to compete with Coca Cola and by early 2015 he retired from Tanzania’s parliament after completing two terms.


17. Othman Benjelloun & family

  • Country: Morocco
  • Age: 87
  • Net worth: $1.4 billion
  • Origin of wealth: Banking, insurance
  • Residence: Casablanca
  • Education: Ecole Polytechnique de Lausanne, Diploma

As the CEO of the bank which has a presence in more than 20 African countries, BMCE Bank of Africa, he’s sure a big shot. He built RMA Watanya, Moroccan insurance company where his father was a shareholder into a leading insurer. In 2014, he inaugurated a $500 million plan to build the 55-story Mohammed VI Tower in Rabat which is expected to be one of the tallest buildings in Africa. FinanceCom, through which he has stake in the Moroccan arm of French telecom firm Orange is part of a project to develop a multibillion-dollar tech city in Tangiers that is expected to host 200 Chinese companies.

Common Facts About Othman Benjelloun & Family
Himself and his wife were honoured with the David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Award for building schools in rural Morocco in 2016, and he co-owns Ranch Adarouch, one of the biggest cattle breeders in Africa. 


18. Michiel Le Roux

  • Country: South Africa
  • Age: 70
  • Net worth: $1.3 billion
  • Origin of wealth: Banking
  • Residence: Stellenbosch

He owns 11% of Capitec Bank which he founded in 2001 where he served as chairman of the board of Capitec which trades on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, targets South Africa’s emerging middle class from 2007 to 2016 and has continued on as a board member. He was previously in charge of a small regional bank in Cape Town’s hinterland Boland Bank.

Common Facts About Michiel Le Roux
30% stake of Capitev bank is owned by South African Jannie Mouton’s PSG Group and the bank has more than 800 branches and over 13,000 employees.


19. Strive Masiyiwa

  • Country: Zimbabwe
  • Age: 58
  • Net worth: $1.1 billion
  • Origin of wealth: Telecom
  • Residence: London
  • Education: University of Wales, Bachelor of Engineering

He launched launch mobile phone network Econet Wireless Zimbabwe in his country despite protracted government opposition in 1998 and he owns about 50% of the publicly-traded Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, which is one part of his larger Econet Group. Along with Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, he also owns about half half of private company Liquid Telecom, which provides fiber optic and satellite services to telecom firms across Africa, stakes in mobile phone networks in Burundi and Lesotho, and investments in fintech and power distribution firms in Africa. The Higherlife Foundation, which supports orphaned and poor children in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Burundi and Lesotho was founded by himself and his wife. 

Common Facts About Strive Masiyiwa
Right after his studies at a university in Britain, he worked at ZPTC, which is Zimbabwe’s phone company, he then proceeded to leave ZPTC and start an engineering services firm, then sold it and founded Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, but had to battle the government in court for years.


20. Folorunso Alakija

  • Country: Nigeria
  • Age: 69
  • Net worth: $1 billion
  • Origin of wealth: Oil
  • Residence: Lagos

She is a very versatile woman in the oil industry as she is not only the vice chair of Famfa Oil whose partners include Chevron and Petrobras, a Nigerian oil exploration company, but also has a stake in Agbami Oilfield, a prolific offshore asset. She was awarded an oil prospecting license in 1993, which was later converted to an oil mining lease. Since 2008, the Agbami field has been operating while Famfa Oil is most likely to operate through 2024.

What It’s Like Meeting Africa’s Richest Man

In an exclusive interview with Aliko Dangote about three years ago, FORBES AFRICA journalist Peace Hyde got to give a little insight on Africa’s richest man. 

As the largest employer of Nigeria, Dangote who is popularly known as a man of very few words has been a strong agent and stabilizing force within the economy of not only Nigeria but also many African nations. Hyde says: “Dangote is someone who is extremely focused and driven with a bullish passion for Africa. For him, the goal is to dream as big and as grandiose as you can when it comes to the future of Africa because he believes, we have the human capital and resources to transform our continent. Everything is possible in his mind. His approach to business is testament to this fact.”

As a wealthy and rich philanthropist, Aliko Dangote through the Dangote Foundation has been on a mission with an objective to reduce the number of lives lost to malnutrition and disease as well as combating Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) in children.

As final remarks, Hyde adds, “You will not find any of the obvious trappings of wealth like flashy cars or a big entourage with him and he takes the time to speak to anyone who approaches him at a function.”