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Dangote, Sawiris, Oppenheimer… How much have African billionaires earnt in 2021?

By Solène Benhaddou
Posted on Thursday, 19 August 2021 15:59

Aliko Dangote, CEO of Dangote Industries Ltd, at the Africa CEO Forum in Abidjan in March 2016. Eric Larrayadieu/Africa CEO Forum

The richest Africans have become considerably wealthier this year, despite the Covid-19 crisis. We take a look at trajectory of the continent’s biggest fortunes.

The coronavirus crisis has not affected African billionaires. Although the world’s economies have been severely impacted by the Covid-19 – which the WHO officially declared a pandemic on 11 March 2020 – the cumulative wealth of Africa’s top 10 billionaires stood at $60.7bn in August 2021, according to the US magazine Forbes. Back in 2019, this figure was at $51.9bn.

Aliko Dangote

For the 10th consecutive year, Forbes has named Aliko Dangote the richest man on the continent. As at 16 August 2021, he had an estimated fortune of $12.3bn, an increase of $4bn from April 2020.

One of the factors behind this rise is the increase in the share price of Dangote Cement, which jumped from N130 (€0.26) in August 2020 to nearly N250 (€0.50) in August 2021. In addition, the Nigerian entrepreneur’s oil refinery mega-project has received a boost from the government. In August, the government approved the national oil company NNPC’s 20% stake in the project, for an investment of $3bn.

Nassef Sawiris

Egypt’s Onsi Sawaris’ youngest heir, who is not as well known as his brother Naguib, is nevertheless the richest. Forbes reported that he had a fortune of nearly $5bn in April 2020. However, it is now estimated to be $9bn (+80%).

He owns 6% of Adidas – whose share price has risen by 16% in one year – and 5% in the construction company Lafarge Holcim. The latter’s share price increased by 21.8% from August 2020 to August 2021. In December 2020, Nassef also acquired a 5% stake in New York-based Madison Square Sports – owner of the New York Knicks (basketball) and New York Rangers (ice hockey) teams.

Nicky Oppenheimer

Nicky Oppenheimer – who currently has an estimated fortune of $8.1bn, according to Forbes (up from $7.4bn in April 2020) – is the third richest man on the continent, thanks to his assets in De Beers (diamonds).

Even though diamond operations were suspended during the second quarter of 2020 due to Covid-19, the South African group recorded revenues of $2.9bn at the end of the first half of 2021, up 141% from the same period in 2020 ($1.2bn) and +12% from 2019 ($2.6bn), as stated in De Beers’ financial reports. The share price of Anglo American, De Beers’ parent company, rose 88% between August 2020 and August 2021.

Johann Rupert

South Africa’s Johann Rupert is the founding chairman of Compagnie Financière Richemont, which owns the Cartier and MontBlanc brands. Between April 2020 and August 2021, his fortune grew from $4.6bn to $7.1bn.

This increase is due to the good results achieved by the Richemont group, one of the three world leaders in luxury goods after LVMH and alongside the Estée Lauder group, which has an annual turnover of about $15bn. Its market capitalisation was about $68.6bn in mid-August 2021, an increase of more than 100% over one year, which means that it has been benefiting from the luxury sector’s clear rebound since the beginning of 2021.

Mike Adenuga

Nigeria’s second richest man, who is currently worth $6.3bn ($5.6bn in April 2020), has made his fortune through the telecom operator Globacom, which he founded in 2003. The group, which had 46 million customers in 2019, now has 50 million (27% of the Nigerian market) tied with Airtel and behind MTN (39%).

Mike Adenuga also operates six oil blocks through his company Conoil in the Niger Delta. The oil company’s share price rose 32% between August 2020 and August 2021, while its quarterly revenues jumped to N34.5bn during the second quarter of this year (+79% year-on-year), resulting in a net profit of N639m (up from N78m a year earlier). It also has a 6% stake in Nigeria’s Sterling Bank, whose shares have increased by 37% in one year.

Abdulsamad Rabiu

Abdulsamad Rabiu heads BUA Group, a Nigerian conglomerate active in cement production, sugar refining and real estate. He and his son own 97% of the company. Rabiu’s fortune grew by 45% to $4.2bn in August 2021 (from $2.9bn in April 2020).

This is because the value of the shares of his company BUA Cement PLC, which was listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange in January 2020, has doubled in the past year from $37 to $67. In January 2021, the stock was worth $85.

In 2020, Rabiu engaged in more partnerships with French companies – including Axens – which will supply a new oil refinery’s technological core, and Saint-Gobain that will build a plaster factory.

Issad Rebrab

The 77-year-old founder and head of the Algerian group Cevital is the oldest of the top 10 richest people in Africa. Cevital specialises in agribusiness, household appliances, logistics and industry. Despite his stint in prison in 2019, his fortune increased by $600m in one year ($4.8bn in August 2021).

The group managed to get through 2020 thanks to sales of sugar and fatty products – two types of goods that are profitable as they are in high demand and have low production costs. Cevital claims that it has the largest sugar refinery in the world and the biggest oil refinery on the continent. However, the company has not disclosed its latest figures.

Naguib Sawiris

According to Forbes, Naguib Sawiris has the eighth richest man on the continent, with his fortune at $3.1bn as of this year (up from $3bn in 2020). His wealth has not increased significantly over the past few years, unlike that of the other men on this list. The 67-year-old Egyptian tycoon, who made his fortune in telecoms, is also the majority shareholder of Endeavour Mining, West Africa’s leading gold company.

The Canadian company successfully merged with Semafo in April 2020 and Teranga Gold in late January 2021. On 14 June 2021, Endeavour Mining was listed on the London Stock Exchange. Its market capitalisation is approximately $5.9bn. In addition, Endeavour Mining has launched a $1.4bn gold mining fund.

Patrice Motsepe

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) president’s fortune more than doubled between 2020 and 2021, from $1.4bn to $3.1bn, according to the US magazine. In 2016, he launched African Rainbow Capital, a new private equity firm that is focused on investing in Africa.

He is also the founder of Ubuntu-Botho Investments (UBI), a company formed on the basis of Black Economic Empowerment, which aims to compensate for the economic inequalities created by apartheid and has favourable terms of access to capital in various companies. UBI owns over 13% of Sanlam Limited, a leading pan-African insurance company.

Koos Bekker

In 10th place is 58-year-old Koos Bekker, the youngest on the list, with an estimated fortune of $2.7bn in 2021, reports Forbes (+$700m). The South African billionaire is the chairman of the media and tech group Naspers, which owns nearly 80 newspapers and 60 magazines.

Its market capitalisation is the largest on the continent ($72bn). In 2019, Naspers invested in two publicly traded companies: entertainment company Multichoice Group and Prosus. In January 2019, he bought Avito, the leading Russian classifieds site.

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