Africa’s billionaires are richer than they have been in years, despite the global pandemic. As a group, the continent’s 18 billionaires are worth an estimated US$84.9 billion – a 15% increase from twelve months ago and the most since 2014, when a larger number of billionaires–28–were worth a combined US$96.5 billion.
On average, the continent’s billionaires are worth US$4.7 billion now vs. US$3.4 billion in 2014. Soaring stock prices from Nigeria to Zimbabwe lifted the fortunes of these tycoons, as demand for products from cement to luxury goods ticked up.
For the 11th year in a row, Alike Dangote of Nigeria is the continent’s richest person, worth an estimated US$13.9 billion, up from US$12.1 billion last year following a 30% increase in the stock price of Dangote Cement, his most valuable asset. A surge in housing developments in Nigeria and growth in government infrastructure spending drove higher demand in the first nine months of 2021, analysts found.
Jumping into the No. 2 spot–up from No. 4 last year–is luxury goods magnate Johann Rupert of South Africa. A more than 60% surge in the share price of his Compagnie Financiere Richemont–maker of Cartier watches and Montblanc pens–pushed his fortune to US$11 billion, up from US$7.2 billion a year ago, making him the biggest dollar gainer on the list.
South African Nicky Oppenheimer, who formerly ran diamond mining firm DeBeers before selling it to mining firm Anglo American a decade ago, ranks No. 3, worth an estimated US$8.7 billion.
The biggest gainer in percentage terms–up 125%—is Strive Masiyiwa of Zimbabwe, worth US$2.7 billion, up from US$1.2 billion last year. Shares of Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, which he founded, rose more than 750% in the past year, helping to drive up the size of his fortune.
Another gainer: Nigerian cement tycoon Abdulsamad Rabiu, who is US$1.5 billion richer after taking yet another of his companies public. In early January 2022, Rabiu listed his sugar and food firm BUA Foods on the Nigerian stock exchange. He and his son retained a 96% stake in the company, which recently had a market capitalization of nearly US$2.8 billion. BUA Cement, in which he and his son have a 96% stake, listed in January 2020.
Only two of the 18 billionaires are worth less than last year: Koos Bekker of South Africa, who dropped to US$2.7 billion from US$2.8 billion as the share prices of consumer Internet firms Naspers and Prosus fell more than 20% each, and Mohammed Dewji of Tanzania, whose fortune declined to an estimated US$1.5 billion from US$1.6 billion a year ago due to lower multiples for publicly traded competitors.
The 18 billionaires from Africa, none of whom are new to the ranks, hail from seven different countries. South Africa and Egypt each have five billionaires, followed by Nigeria with three and Morocco with two. All of the continent’s billionaires are men; the last woman to appear in the ranks, Isabel dos Santos of Angola, fell off the Forbes list in January 2021.
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