Forbes’ billionaires: Dangote retains spot as Africa wealthiest

*BUA boss, Rabiu, re-emerges with $1.6bn

Four Nigerians including Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Mike Adenuga, Folunsho Alakija and Abdulsamad Rabiu have been listed among top billionaire in Africa with a combined net worth of $22.2 billion.

In the latest ranking by Forbes, Dangote, Africa’s prolific investor, retained his position as the wealthiest man in the continent.

His estimated $10.3 billion net worth, however, is nearly $2 billion less than a year ago, primarily due to a roughly 20 per cent drop in the stock price of Dangote Cement, his most valuable asset.

According to Forbes, a publication that monitors African billionaire investors’ transactions on a yearly basis, the Nigerian business mogul, who has consummate interest in flour, sugar, cement, construction and other line of investments, is retaining the top position for the eight year in a row.

Forbes tracks the wealth of African billionaires who reside in Africa or have their primary businesses within the continent.

Dangote emerged top among 20 African tycoons, whose current worth is put at $68.7 billion, down from $75.4 billion for last year’s list, even though the average net worth for each list member this year climbed to $3.4 billion from $3.3 billion in early 2018.

Buffeted by plunging stock prices and weaker currencies, the number of African billionaires shrank to just 20, down from 23 a year ago.

Four people fell off Forbes’ annual list of the continent’s richest since last year while one returned to the ranks after a four-year absence. All but four members of the list have smaller fortunes than a year ago.

The biggest returnee on the list is Rabiu, another Nigerian cement mogul, who runs and owns the BUA Group with a net worth of $1.6 billion.

He returned to the list for the first time since 2015.

Among some investment decisions taken by the Kano-born businessman last year was merging his Kalambaina Cement firm into publicly-traded Cement Company of Northern Nigeria. Rabiu now owns 97 per cent of the list entity.

Separately, Rabiu’s OBU Cement recently expanded its operations, adding a new production line.

Two women, Isabel dos Santos, daughter of Angola’s former president, Jose Eduardo dos Santos; and Nigeria’s Alakija also made the list of 20 billionaires.

Dos Santos’ fortune declined to an estimated $2.3 billion, down from $2.7 billion a year ago, primarily due to a drop in value of her stock holdings in oil firm Galp and communications firm Nos – both in Portugal – and a decline in the value of Angolan mobile telecom firm Unitel, of which she owns 25 per cent.

Unitel is in an arbitration with one of its shareholders, Brazilian telecom firm Oi, which claims it is owed $608 million in unpaid dividends from five years through 2014. (Unitel did not respond to a request for comment).

Alakija, with a net worth of $1.1 billion, owns a stake in one of the most productive oil fields in Nigeria, currently operated by Chevron. Her net worth dropped due a decline in the value of the oil field, in part because its production has leveled off.

According to the ranking, Africa’s second richest, Adenuga, is worth an estimated $9.2 billion.

Adenuga owns Globacom, which is Nigeria’s third largest mobile phone network, plus oil exploration firm, Conoil Producing, extensive real estate holdings in Nigeria, and a network of 12,000 cell phone towers.

Adenuga’s net worth also climbed dramatically from $5.3 billion in January 2018 as a result of more detailed information provided by him about his assets.

Number three in Africa is South African diamond heir, Nicky Oppenheimer, whose grandfather founded diamond mining firm, DeBeers, which Nicky ran and then sold to mining giant, Anglo American, for $5.1 billion cash in 2012. He is currently worth an estimated $7.3 billion, down from $7.7 billion a year ago.

Among the few on the list, who are richer than a year ago, is Strive Masiyiwa of Zimbabwe, worth an estimated $2.3 billion, up from $1.6 billion last year. He’s richer due to a rise in the share price of Econet Wireless Zimbabwe and a new investment that boosted the value of his stake in fiber optic and satellite services firm Liquid Telecom.

In a per country ranking, Egypt and South Africa are tied with five billionaires each, followed by Nigeria with four and Morocco with two. Forbes found one billionaire each from Algeria, Angola, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

The three South Africans who fell off since last year’s list are Stephen Saad, founder of generics drug firm Aspen Pharmacare; Desmond Sacco, chairman of iron ore mining company, Assore Group; and Christoffel Wiese, founder of retailer Pepkor and former chairman of furniture retailer Steinhoff International, which acquired Pepkor in 2015. Steinhoff is still reeling from an accounting scandal that was disclosed in December 2017, and shortly afterwards, Wiese stepped down as chairman of the company.

The fourth dropoff is Onsi Sawiris of Egypt, who owns a stake in Netherlands-based fertilizer and chemical producer OCI N.V. All four fell off due to a decline in the stock price of their main asset.

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