Dangote, Sawiris, Masiyiwa… A great year for African billionaires

By Yara Rizk
Posted on Wednesday, 2 February 2022 10:49, updated on Thursday, 23 June 2022 12:26

Egypt's Nassef Sawiris, Nigeria's Aliko Dangote and Zimbabwe's Strive Masiyiwa have seen their fortunes rise significantly this year. © JA editing: ANDREW GOMBERT/EPA/MAXPPP; ERIC LARRAYADIEU/ACF/JA; C. BIBBY/Financial Times/REA.

According to the Forbes Billionaires List, the continent’s 18 billionaires have seen their fortunes rise to their highest levels since 2014.

Seven African countries are once again represented in this year’s ranking. South Africa and Egypt have the most billionaires (five each), followed by Nigeria and Morocco (three and two billionaires respectively). Even in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, the fortunes of Africa’s wealthiest have continued to grow. In total, the accumulated wealth of the continent’s 18 billionaires amounts to $84.9bn. This sum has increased by 15% in 12 months and represents the largest combined total since 2014.

According to the report published by Forbes on 24 January, this enrichment is due to an increase in demand for luxury goods and construction materials, as well as soaring stock prices, particularly in Nigeria and Zimbabwe.

Top four still richer

The top four remain Aliko Dangote ($13.9bn), Johann Rupert ($11bn), Nicky Oppenheimer ($8.7bn) and Nassef Sawiris ($8.6bn).

In just one short year, the Nigerian tycoon Dangote has seen his wealth grow by 14.8%. This was made possible by the 30% increase in Dangote Cement’s share price, following the housing construction boom in Nigeria and increased government spending on infrastructure. Dangote Cement is a Nigerian multinational listed company specialising in the production and marketing of cement.

Luxury goods industry heavyweight Rupert moved from fourth place to second. This improved performance is due to the 60% increase in his company Richemont’s share price. In total, the South African tycoon’s fortune grew by $3.8bn between 2020 and 2021. As such, the businessman recorded the biggest dollar increase in his fortune on this list. The most significant gainer in percentage terms is Zimbabwe’s Strive Masiyiwa (+ 125%), who is worth $1.5bn more than last year. His company Econet Wireless Zimbabwe saw its shares rise by more than 750%, which contributed significantly to his wealth.

In third place is Oppenheimer, the South African who became a multi-billionaire after buying the diamond mining company DeBeers, which was then sold to the mining company Anglo American a decade ago. Sawiris moved up from fourth to second place, with a fortune that grew by 1.17%, from $8.5bn to $8.6bn. Although his wealth did not increase as much as other billionaires on this list, his total assets nevertheless allow him to remain in the top four.

Two “losers”

The two African billionaires worth less than last year are South Africa’s Koos Bekker and Tanzania’s Mohammed Dewji. The media leader’s wealth dropped from $2.8bn to $2.7bn as the share prices of Naspers (a multimedia company) and Prosus (a consumer internet company) fell by more than 20%. The former Tanzanian member of parliament’s fortune fell slightly – from $1.6bn to $1.5bn – due to the decline in the value of his stock market assets.

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