Africa’s billionaires became richer in 2021 despite the devastating impacts of the global pandemic on businesses around the world, a new report by Forbes has revealed.
The continent’s 18 billionaires are now worth an estimated $84.9 billion, which implies a 15 per cent increase within a year and the most since 2014 when a larger number of billionaires (28 billionaires ) were worth $96.5 billion when combined.
“On average, the continent’s billionaires are worth $4.7 billion now vs. $3.4 billion in 2014,” Forbes, a global media company, said in its latest report.
The report published on Monday is a product of a study that tracked the wealth of African billionaires who reside in Africa or have their primary business within the continent.
It excluded the Sudanese-born billionaire Mo Ibrahim, who is a U.K. citizen and Mohamed Al-Fayed an Egyptian billionaire who is a London resident. However, Strive Masiyiwa, a citizen of Zimbabwe and a London resident, appeared on the list because of his telecom holdings in Africa.
The billionaires’ net worths were calculated using stock prices and currency exchange rates from the close of business on Wednesday, January 19.
According to the report, soaring stock prices from Nigeria to Zimbabwe lifted the fortunes of the tycoons, as demand for products from cement to luxury goods ticked up.
For the 11th year in a row, Aliko Dangote of Nigeria remained the continent’s richest person, worth an estimated $13.9 billion, up from $12.1 billion last year following a 30 per cent increase in the stock price of Dangote Cement, his most valuable asset.
According to the report, analysts found that a surge in housing developments in Nigeria and growth in government infrastructure spending drove higher demand in the first nine months of 2021.
Luxury goods magnate, Johann Rupert of South Africa, who was ranked fourth among the billionaires, rose to second spot in the latest rankings.
“A more than 60% surge in the share price of his Compagnie Financiere Richemont–maker of Cartier watches and Montblanc pens–pushed his fortune to $11 billion, up from $7.2 billion a year ago, making him the biggest dollar gainer on the list ,” the report says.
Similarly, the report said South African Nicky Oppenheimer, who formerly ran diamond mining firm DeBeers before selling it to mining firm Anglo American a decade ago, ranks number three, and worth an estimated $8.7 billion.
“The biggest gainer in percentage terms–up 125%—is Strive Masiyiwa of Zimbabwe, worth $2.7 billion, up from $1.2 billion last year. Shares of Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, which he founded, rose more than 750% in the past year, helping to drive up the size of his fortune,” the report partly reads.
Also, the study shows that Nigerian cement tycoon, Abdulsamad Rabiu, is $1.5 billion richer after taking yet another of his companies public.
In early January, Mr Rabiu listed his sugar and food firm BUA Foods on the Nigerian stock exchange, where himself and his son retained a 96 per cent stake in the company which recently had a market capitalization of nearly $2.8 billion.
The report said only two out of the 18 billionaires are worth less than last year (Koos Bekker of South Africa and Mohammed Dewji of Tanzania)
It said Mr Bekker dropped to $2.7 billion from $2.8 billion as the share prices of consumer Internet firms Naspers and Prosus fell more than 20 per cent each, while Mr Dewji’s fortune declined to an estimated $1.5 billion from $1.6 billion a year ago due to lower multiples for publicly traded competitors.
Findings from the study reveals that none of the 18 billionaires from Africa are new to the ranks, and that the billionaires hail from seven different countries.
It said while South Africa and Egypt have five billionaires each, Nigeria currently has three and Morocco with two.
“All of the continent’s billionaires are men; the last woman to appear in the ranks, Isabel dos Santos of Angola, fell off the Forbes list in January 2021,” the report said.