Africa’s Richest: Number Of African Billionaires Surges To 27, Up Two-Thirds From 2012

African Billionaires
Africa’s richest man and woman are both Nigerians

AFRICANGLOBE – There’s no doubt about it: Africa’s richest are getting richer. In the third annual list of Africa’s Richest, FORBES rank 50 tycoons from 10 countries, including, for the first time, Algeria. The number of 10-figure fortunes in Africa has surged to 27, up from 16 a year ago.

The main reasons: Rising stock prices, new business deals, and new moguls and assets discovered as a result greater research. What a difference a decade makes. In 2003, FORBES counted only two billionaires in Africa – Nicky Oppenheimer and Johann Rupert, both of South Africa.

Aliko Dangote of Nigeria tops the list for the third year in a row, with a fortune of $20.8 billion – $8.8 billion more than in November 2012, making him the biggest gainer in dollar terms. About 90% of his net worth lies in his shares of publicly traded Dangote Cement , which has operations in a host of African countries and plans to expand.

Nine newcomers join the list of Richest Africans, including Issad Rebrab of Algeria–the first Algerian in the ranks and the country’s first billionaire. Rebrab’s private Cevital Group, which had $3.5 billion in revenues last year, produces sugar, oil, and margarine.

His success is unusual in a country with socialist policies that have typically been difficult for entrepreneurs. Three newcomers also join from Tanzania, two from Nigeria and one each from Kenya, Morocco and South Africa.

Who are the 11 new billionaires on the list? Four of them are newcomers: Algeria’s Rebrab, Vimal Shah & family of Kenya, Rostam Azizi of Tanzania and Aziz Akhannouch of Morocco. But the rest were on last year’s Africa list and crossed over into billionaire territory within the past year.

Stephen Saad of South Africa rode a rocketing share price at pharmaceutical firm Aspen Pharmacare, which took him to a net worth of $1.5 billion, up from $975 million a year ago. (Aspen Pharmacare manufactures drugs in 17 factories spread across five continents.)  Koos Bekker, the CEO of South African media and investment firm Naspers, joined the billionaires’ ranks as the value of his options and exercised shares rose.

Others crossed the $1 billion mark as a result of deeper due diligence. That is true of Folorunsho Alakija of Nigeria, whose Famfa Oil owns a chunk of the productive Agbami oilfield. Alakija won a court case in 2012 that enabled her to reclaim part ownership of the oil block that had been taken from her illegally by the Nigerian government.

After careful vetting of her ownership stake and discussion with analysts about the value of Famfa Oil’s stake, we now estimates her net worth at $2.5 billion, up from $600 million a year ago.  It’s a similar story with Isabel dos Santos of Angola, whose net worth is estimated at $3.5 billion, up from $500 million a year ago.

With research help from Angolan journalist Rafael Marques de Morais, we managed to pin down Dos Santos’ stake in Portuguese energy company GALP and Angolan mobile telecom firm Unitel. Her stakes in each company are worth about $1 billion. Better information about assets owned by Sudhir Ruparelia of Uganda and Abdulsamad Rabiu of Nigeria enabled us to determine that both men hold 10-figure fortunes.

The oldest person on the list is Miloud Chaabi of Morrocco, age 84. The youngest is newcomer Mohammed “Mo” Dewji of Tanzania, age 38. The number of women on the list is two, unchanged from a year ago. Thirty-seven of the fortunes were self made; the remaining 13 were inherited but are being expanded.

South Africa is the country with the most list members, at 14. Twelve of the 50 built their wealth through diversified fortunes; 7 hail from finance and there are 4 fortunes each in real estate and telecom. The average net worth of each list member is $2.1 billion and the total wealth of Africa’s 50 Richest is $103.8 billion.


Our list tracks the wealth of African citizens who reside on the continent, thus excluding Sudanese-born billionaire Mo Ibrahim, who is a U.K. citizen, and billionaire London resident Mohamed Al-Fayed, an Egyptian citizen. We calculated net worths using stock prices and exchange rates from the close of business on Friday, November 1. To value privately-held businesses we couple estimates of revenues or profits with prevailing price-to-sales or price-to-earnings ratios for similar public companies.

We have purposely excluded dispersed family fortunes such as the Chandaria family of Kenya and the Madhvanis of Uganda, because the wealth is believed to be held by dozens of family members. We do include wealth belonging to a member’s immediate relatives if the wealth can be traced to one living individual; in that case, you’ll see “& family” on our list as an indication.


By: Kerry A. Dolan


See the full list of Africa’s 50 richest at