For years, there has been little suspense about who will top the list of Africa’s wealthiest personalities. On a global scale, bookmakers regularly struggle to predict the new winner, based on entrepreneurial successes, capital valuations or asset disposals.
The global domination of the American Bill Gates seems a distant memory. All the more so since the Microsoft founder announced in December that his near-grandfatherly status made him want to give away another $100bn via his Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
As for the whimsical South African-Canadian-American Elon Musk – who became the richest man in the world in August 2022 – he has just handed over the top spot to Frenchman Bernard Arnault, CEO of the luxury goods group LVMH.
Dangote still in the lead
In Africa, Aliko Dangote has succeeded himself for the 12th year, according to recent data from Forbes magazine and the financial group Bloomberg. The Nigerian’s fortune is estimated at $13.5bn.
At a time characterised both structurally by growing inequality and cyclically by health crises and wars, this amount is down by $400m from the previous year, just as the collective wealth of African billionaires fell by $3.1bn.
The exclusive club has nevertheless grown from 18 to 19 members. As for the fortune of Dangote, the 85th richest man in the world, it is said to have popped back up again by $5.5bn since the late December results were published on 30 January…
While Elon Musk is clearly no longer counted among the Africans, two personalities from his native land round off the podium for the continent. In second place is Johann Rupert, chairman of the Swiss luxury goods company Richemont, whose fortune was down $300m but still estimated at $10.7bn, making him the 157th richest person in the world.
The bronze medal goes to Nicky Oppenheimer, former chairman of the diamond mining company De Beers and its subsidiary Diamond Trading Company, who is now the boss of a fortune estimated at $8.4bn.
The rest of the top 10 includes Nigerian Abdulsamad Rabiu ($7.6bn), Egyptian Nassef Sawiris ($7.3bn), Nigerian Mike Adenuga ($6.3bn), Algerian Issad Rebrab ($4.6bn), Naguib Sawiris ($3.3bn), South African Patrice Motsepe ($3.2bn) and Egyptian Mohamed Mansour ($2.9bn).
These are the kinds of fortunes that would make some countries envious. By way of comparison, the gross domestic product (GDP) of The Comoros Islands is around $1bn a year, while Guinea-Bissau’s GDP is estimated at around $1.5bn.
Understand Africa's tomorrow... today
We believe that Africa is poorly represented, and badly under-estimated. Beyond the vast opportunity manifest in African markets, we highlight people who make a difference; leaders turning the tide, youth driving change, and an indefatigable business community. That is what we believe will change the continent, and that is what we report on. With hard-hitting investigations, innovative analysis and deep dives into countries and sectors, The Africa Report delivers the insight you need.View subscription options