Africa Forges New Billionaires

Shop in Accra displays traditional fabric designs.

Private wealth in Africa continues to gain momentum. According to Forbes, there are now 23 billionaires on the continent. Eight of them reside in South Africa, six in Egypt. The overall number increased by two over the course of 2017. In context, the number of billionaires in Africa is consistent with the number who live in Paris. Forbes estimates that there are over 2,000 billionaires worldwide.

Richest Individual. The wealthiest man in Africa is Aliko Dangote (est. $12.2 billion). His considerable fortune is derived from cement, food processing, and real estate. The Dangote Group runs its operations from Nigeria, but interests stretch throughout West Africa. He is an ethnic Muslim.

New Addition. An interesting newcomer to the list this year is Strive Masiyiwa (est. $1.7 billion). The native Zimbabwean controls Johannesburg-based EcoNet Group. Its subsidiaries include firms in the telecommunications and banking industries. Masiyiwa is active in philanthropic circles worldwide.

Wealthiest Woman. The richest woman in Africa is Angola-based Isabel dos Santos (est. $2.7 billion). Her fortune was largely sourced from her father, José Eduardo dos Santos, the Angolan president between 1979-2017. Known locally as “the princess,” she once ran Sonangol, the flagship conglomerate.

President Trump may want to spend more time befriending his billionaire colleagues in Africa once he leaves office. Assuming that his net worth is valued at near $3.1 billion, he would now rank somewhere between Naguib Sawiris (Egypt) and Koos Bekker (South Africa) on the African list, effectively making him the seventh wealthiest person on the continent by current estimates. Among American tycoons, he ranks only at 248th place, tied with 15 other US billionaires, according to October 2017 data compiled by Forbes.

Our Vantage Point: Like elsewhere, emerging markets in Africa are generating pools of private wealth that are seeping into capital markets. Cliché-ridden views are out-of-place in this increasingly buoyant region.

Learn more at Forbes

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Image: Traditional fabric designs convey the diversity of African culture. Credit: Malajski at Can Stock Photo Inc.