SA tops Africa with the most billionaires

Johannesburg - It’s the continent’s most exclusive club – and you need at least $400 million (about R3,6 billion) to join it. They work in diamonds, cement, telecoms, banking, hotels, retailing and oil.

Their average age is 63, most are self-made, and five live in Joburg.

Nicky Oppenheimer. Credit: REUTERS

The educated ones went to universities around the world, including Harvard and Sandhurst Military Academy, but some missed out on that or even dropped out.

They could fund South Africa for two-thirds of the year, because together they’re worth $72.9bn.

These are the continent’s billionaires – Africa’s 40 Richest People, a list released by Forbes magazine this week.

“Forbes’s second annual list of the continent’s 40 wealthiest reflects growth across much of it. These moguls’ combined net worth, $72.9bn, is up 12 percent over last year,” Forbes said.

“Africa is known for abundant natural resources, but its 40 richest operate in an array of industries, bolstered by a growing consumer sector. Only four of the 40 made their money in oil; 10, by contrast, have diversified fortunes, whether through ownership of a conglomerate or a portfolio comprising a range of assets. Six built their wealth in the financial industry.”

Top of the rich heap is Aliko Dangote of Nigeria. He is number one in Africa but only number 76 internationally.

Dangote made his money in cement, sugar and flour, and his company Dangote Cement is Africa’s largest cement manufacturer, according to Forbes.

He gives “tens of millions of dollars” to support education, health and poverty eradication.

There are 12 South Africans on Forbes’s list – the country with the most – followed by Nigeria with 11 billionaires.

Five of the South Africans – Nicky Oppenheimer, Patrice Motsepe, Desmond Sacco, Cyril Ramaphosa and Laurie Dippenaar – live in Joburg.

Only two women made the list – Folorunsho Alakija of Nigeria ($600m) and Isabel dos Santos of Angola ($500m). Dos Santos is the president’s daughter, with wealth through investments. “Her first venture was a Luanda eatery called Miami Beach Club,” Forbes said.