The latest African rich list sees the first ever appearance in a list of super wealthy individuals by Allan Gray, the founder of South Africa’s largest privately owned asset manager of the same name.
Publicity-shy Gray makes it to the number two slot with an estimated wealth of $8.5 billion (R85bn), which makes him significantly richer than the better known super wealthy names such as Nicky Oppenheimer, Johann Rupert and Christo Wiese.
The list, which was compiled by African Ventures, a recently established pan-African business magazine, is dominated by South Africans and Nigerians, who comprise five and four, respectively, of the top 10 wealthiest Africans.
According to African Ventures, there are at least 55 dollar billionaires in Africa. Previous estimates by Forbes have put the figure at between 16 and 25.
The Financial Times notes that the Forbes list of super-rich is not comparable with African Ventures’ list, but it is unclear what the difference in methodology is.
The richest person in Africa, according to African Ventures, is Nigerian Aliko Dangote, who made his estimated $20.2bn through manufacturing. African Ventures reports that Dangote, 56, started building his fortune 30 years ago by trading in commodities such as flour, sugar, rice and cement. Early this century, he moved into manufacturing and the Dangote Group is now the largest manufacturing conglomerate in west Africa with sugar refineries, salt processing facilities, a beverage plant and several cement factories across Africa.
In October last year, Tiger Brands acquired a controlling stake in Dangote’s flour milling company and in June last year the Public Investment Corporation acquired a 1.5 percent stake in the Dangote Group for $290 million.
In second position with $8.5bn, Gray’s wealth is less than half of that of Dangote. Gray, 75, who now resides in Bermuda, set up his asset management company in Cape Town in 1973. In 1989, he founded Orbis, a Bermuda-based asset manager.
In third position is 60-year-old Nigerian Mike Adenuga who, according to African Ventures, “made his fortune in his mid-20s by distributing lace fabrics and Coca-Cola and by handling lucrative government contracts during the regime of former Nigerian president Ibrahim Babangida”.
He subsequently moved into oil and set up the first Nigerian company to strike oil in commercial quantities. Adenuga, whose estimated wealth is $8bn, also controls a cellphone network that operates in Nigeria and Benin.
The only woman on the list is 62-year-old Nigerian Folorunsho Alakija who makes it to fourth place with $7.3bn, much of which is based on her control of Famfa Oil. African Ventures reports that in 1993 Alakija used her relationship with Babangida’s wife to acquire a valuable oil asset at a relatively inexpensive price.
In 2000, the then Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo forcefully acquired the bulk of Alakija’s oil assets and transferred them to the government-owned oil company. Following a 12-year legal battle the Nigerian Supreme Court reinstated Alakija’s oil assets in 2012.
In at number five is 68-year-old Nicky Oppenheimer, whose $6.5bn stems from the strong hold that Anglo American and De Beers had on the South African mining industry for decades. More recently, the Oppenheimer family has reduced its exposure to mining and invested in the fast-moving consumer goods and agricultural sectors in Africa.
Johann Rupert, 63, is at number six with $6.1bn. Although much of the Rupert family wealth was originally generated by cigarettes, it has more recently been transferred to luxury goods.
Nassef Sawaris is the only Egyptian in the top 10. As with Oppenheimer and Rupert, 53-year-old Sawaris comes from a wealthy family. His $5.2bn is linked to the construction industry in north Africa.
In eighth position with $4.2bn is 67-year old Gilbert Chagoury, who is described by African Ventures as a Nigerian-Lebanese industrialist and diplomat. The Chagoury conglomerate has interests in manufacturing, construction, real estate, hospitality and health care.
Natie Kirsh, who is 82 years old and described as a citizen of Swaziland, is in ninth place with $3.6bn. His companies own properties in Swaziland, as well as an interest in a London-based property developer and food distribution in New York.
In 10th place is 72-year-old Christo Wiese with $3.4bn, most of which comes from valuable assets in the retail sector and private equity investments. – Ann Crotty