Africa's top 10 billionaires
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It’s not uncommon to hear about business people who started from the little start-up fund they could raise and ended up building a thriving firm, or about seasoned business owners who took over a decades-old enterprise and transformed it into a bigger business empire. These stories are all inspiring, and what is more motivational is hearing about people who started with just nothing, as you can see on this list of Africa’s top 10 billionaires.

If you need some inspiration, look no further. Just take notes from these richest entrepreneurs in Africa and their incredible life stories. It’s not so easy getting to the top, as a number of them started their businesses without much support. However, given that all of these entrepreneurs now own various successful businesses might be the inspiration you need to follow your dream. Let’s tell their story.

1. Aliko Dangote, $10.1 Billion [Nigerian]
Source of wealth: Cement, Sugar, Flour

Africa's top 10 billionaires
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  • Date of birth: 10 April 1957
  • Country: Nigeria
  • Residence: Lagos
  • Education: Al-Azhar University, Bachelor of Arts/Science
  • Source of Wealth: Business
  • Business interest: Sugar refinery, oil and gas, consumer goods, and manufacturing, Cement.
  • Net Worth: $10.1 billion

Aliko Dangote, born in Nigeria, retains the position for the richest man in Africa for 3 years in a row. Dangote is $4.9 billion richer compared to 2012 on account of the soaring value of his properties in Nigerian blue chips such as Dangote Sugar, Dangote Cement, National Salt, Zenith Bank and Company of Nigeria, etc. In the year 2013, FORBES accounted for other properties, including his portfolio of homes, yacht, and jets. He started making his wealth over 3 decades ago through commodities trading like flour, sugar, and cement but turned out to be a billionaire by manufacturing the items. The admired philanthropist has donated more than $100 million to causes in education, health, poverty alleviation, and flood relief.

Key Takeaways

1. Dangote once worked for his uncle, Sani Dangote, for a while before taking a loan of N500,000 from him to start his own business. His grandfather was also a successful trader of rice and oats in Kano, Nigeria’s second-largest city.

2. Aliko Dangote has been the richest man in Africa for nine years in a row, with a net worth more than $10 billion.

3. Although Dangote grew up upper-class, Dangote was entrepreneurial from a young age

4. According to Investopedia, when Dangote was young, he bought sweets, gave them to others to sell, and he kept the profits.

2. Nassef Sawiris, $8 Billion [Egyptian]
Source of wealth: Construction

Africa's top 10 billionaires

  • Date of birth: 1961
  • Country: Egypt
  • Residence: Cairo
  • Education: University of Chicago
  • Source of Wealth: Business
  • Business interest: Construction, chemicals, telecommunications and tourism, science and technology, and industry
  • Net Worth: $8 billion

Nassef Sawiris is the head of Egypt’s most expensive publicly-traded company, Orascom Construction Industries (OCI), and one of Africa’s top 10 billionaires, according to Forbes. In January 2013, he announced that the company was exchanging the company’s worldwide depositary receipts for newly issued shares of OCI NV on the NYSE Euro next in Amsterdam. The renowned Bill Gates was part of U.S investors’ consortium who offered $1 billion to assist cover payments to those shareholders that choose to tender their OCI shares for hard cash.

Key Takeaways

1. Nassef Sawiris is a successful businessman, but did you know he was born into a business-oriented home? Well, his father Onsi Sawiris is a successful businessman, whose net worth was estimated at $1.2 billion based on a 2017 report by Forbes.

2. Nassef’s father Onsi Sawiris founded the Orascom group and brought in his three sons Naguib, Samih, and Nassef, who is the youngest of the three.

3. All two of Nassef’s siblings and his father were educated in Europe and the United States.

4. Nassef has been in leadership positions with different organizations, including being the supervisory director of Adidas AG, Herzogenaurach, Germany, chairman of Aston Villa F.C, a member of Cleveland Clinic’s international leadership board, and a member of the University of Chicago’s board of trustees, among others.

3. Mike Adenuga, $7.7 Billion [Nigerian]
Source of income: Telecoms, Oil

  • Date of birth: 29 April 1953
  • Country: Nigeria
  • Residence: Lagos
  • Education: Northwestern Oklahoma State University, Pace University
  • Source of Wealth: Business
  • Business interest: Telecom, Oil
  • Net Worth: $7.7 billion

Mike Adenuga, the reclusive billionaire and one of Africa’s top 10 billionaires owns Nigeria’s second-leading cell phone network, Globacom. Globacom has over 40 million clients in Nigeria and functions in Benin. It holds licenses in the Ivory Coast and Ghana as well, with more licenses being looked out for in other West African countries. Mike owns Conoil producing too, one of Nigeria’s biggest independent oil exploration companies. It operates six oil blocks in Niger Delta, Nigeria, and a controlling stake in a petroleum marketing company, Conoil PLC.

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Key Takeaways

1. Mike Adenuga is completely self-made. His early life was not characterized by opulence; he started his career as a taxi driver to be able to fund his university education.

2. His father was a school teacher while his mum was a businesswoman of royal Ijebu

3. Adenuga also sold lace and was a distributor of soft drinks. In 1979, at age 26, he made his first million from these businesses. Eleven years later,  he obtained a drilling license, and in 1991, he earned his first GSM license.

4. His license was revoked, but he gained a second one in 2003 when the government conducted another auction.

4. Nicky Oppenheimer & Family, $7.6 Billion [South African]
Source of wealth: Diamonds

  • Date of Birth: 8 June 1945
  • Country: South Africa
  • Residence: Johannesburg
  • Education: Oxford University Christ Church, Master of Arts/Science
  • Source of Wealth: Business
  • Business interest: Diamonds
  • Net Worth: $7.6 billion

In 2011, precisely in November, Nicky sold 40% of his family’s stake to the world’s leading diamond producer, De Beers, for $5.1 billion. This marked the end of the family’s control of De Beers, a relationship that started when Oppenheimer’s grandfather, Ernest Oppenheimer, had to take over the firm in the year 1927. The Oppenheimer’s invests through Tana Africa Capital, a private equity joint venture of $300 million with Singapore state investor Temasek.

Key Takeaways

1. Oppenheimer’s family has a long history in business and mining. His father was among the richest men in the country while his grandfather established Anglo American, the multinational mining company.

2. He co-owns a non-governmental organization known as Brenthurst Foundation that supports African development and economic performance.

3. The South African businessman is also actively involved in introducing solutions to environmental and conservation issues. This led him to acquire the Tswalu Kalahari Reserve, the biggest private game reserve in South Africa.

4. One of Oppenheimer’s hobbies is sports, with his bests being squash, cricket, and golf.

5. Johann Rupert & Family, $6.5 Billion [South African]
Source of wealth: Luxury Goods

  • Date of Birth: 1 June 1950
  • Country: South Africa
  • Residence: Cape Town
  • Education: Paul Roos Gymnasium, University of Stellenbosch
  • Source of Wealth: Business
  • Business interest: Luxury goods
  • Net Worth: $6.5 billion

He is one of the richest men in South Africa, as well as one of Africa’s top 10 billionaires. Rupert has been the president of Swiss-based luxury goods outfit, Compagnie Financiere Richemont, that controls premium brands like Alfred Dunhill, Cartier, Vacheron Constantin, Montblanc, and Chloé, which is the source of his wealth. Johann also has stakes in investment holding companies, Reinet and Remgro.

Key Takeaways

1. Rupert started pretty much small in business, dropping out of school to become what he is today.

2. He loves sports and founded the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation in 1990. Laureus funds 65 projects globally in a bid to use sport to address social issues, with a special focus on children in need. He also co-founded the Sports Science Institute.

3. Rupert also owns part of the Saracens English rugby team and Anthonij Rupert Wines, named after his deceased brother, who died from a fatal car accident.

4. According to Rupert, his biggest regret was missing the opportunity of buying half of Gucci when he had the opportunity to do so for only $175 million.

6. Issad Rebrab, $4 Billion [Algerian]
Source of Income: Food

  • Date of Birth: May 27, 1944
  • Country: Algeria
  • Residence: Algiers
  • Education: N/A
  • Source of Wealth: Business
  • Business interest: food
  • Net Worth: $4.4 billion

Issad Rebrab shot up the list of Africa’s top 10 billionaires in the past couple of years. He is the founder and CEO of Cevital, which happens to be Algeria’s biggest privately-held company, and Rebrab seems intent on keeping things within the family as five of his children work for him. The company has one of the world’s biggest sugar refineries, which has a capacity of production, reaching 2 million tons a year. As part of its business strategy, Cevital has been buying European companies in distress, such as Groupe Brandt, a French maker of home appliances. The company, in 2016, announced plans to build a steel mill in Brazil, all to the end of making even more money as the company will be able to produce train tracks and improve transportation logistics for sugar, corn, and soy flour exports.

Key Takeaways

1. Issad Rebrab is the son of revolutionaries who fought for the independence of Algeria from France.

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2. He was a teacher and taught business law and accounting before starting his industrial career with a 20 percent share in a metallurgical construction company.

3. The business magnet is the first billionaire of Algeria. He suffered a huge loss in the past after a terrorist attack destroyed his main installations and thus left Algeria for good.

4. In 1998, he returned with Cevital, an agricultural conglomerate that now owns the biggest sugar refiners in the world.

5. Issad has gone to prison on charges of corruption. He was imprisoned for six months and released on January 1, 2020.

7. Mohamed Mansour, $3.3 Billion [Egyptian]
Source of wealth: Diversified

Africa's top 10 billionaires

  • Date of Birth: 1948
  • Country: Egypt
  • Residence: Cairo
  • Education: Auburn University, North Carolina State University
  • Source of Wealth: Business
  • Business interest: Diversified
  • Net Worth: $3.3 billion

Mohamed Mansour took over Mansour Group, which was founded by his father Loutfy Mansour. The company has become one of the biggest General Motors distributors in the world, and Mansour also has exclusive distribution rights for Caterpillar equipment. Under the regime of Hosni Mubarak, Mohamed Mansour was Egypt’s Minister of Transportation.

Key Takeaways

1. Mohammed Mansour thinks long term in every business decision he makes.

2. He was Egypt’s Minister of Transportation from 2006 to 2009 but resigned following a deadly train crash.

8. Abdulsamad Rabiu, $3.1 Billion [Nigerian]
Source of wealth: Cement, Sugar

Africa's top 10 billionaires
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  • Date of Birth: 4 August 1960
  • Country: Nigeria
  • Residence: Algiers
  • Education: Capital University in Columbus, Ohio
  • Source of Wealth: Business
  • Business interest: Cement, Sugar
  • Net Worth: $3.1 Billion

Rabiu established BUA Group, a Nigeria conglomerate that is active in sugar, cement, and real estate. He owns 98 percent of the company. Through his competent management, the company has acquired Nigerian Oil Mills Limited, which the biggest edible oil processing company in Nigeria. The company has successfully gone into cement and sugar production, with its sugar industry being the second-largest in Africa.

Key Takeaways

1. Rabiu is the son of a reputable businessman who passed him several lands, among other fortunes.

2. The businessman first launched his business in 1988, with a strong focus on chemicals, iron, and steel.

9. Naguib Sawiris, $3 Billion [Egyptian]
Source of wealth: Telecom

Africa's top 10 billionaires

  • Date of Birth: 15 June 1954
  • Country: Egypt
  • Residence: Cairo
  • Education: Cairo University, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich
  • Source of Wealth: Business
  • Business interest: Telecom
  • Net Worth: $3 billion

Naguib, the eldest son of Onsi Sawiris, an Egyptian billionaire, and one of Africa’s top 10 billionaires, built his wealth from telecom. He has sold off almost his entire shares in Vimpelcom, the Russian telecom, which had obtained the family’s Telecom company in 2011 in a cash and stock deal. Naguib’s Orascom Telecom Media and Technology has a 75% stake in Koryolink, a North Korea’s single-cell network. The billionaire is also a major owner in Euronews.

Key Takeaways

1. In 2019, Sawiris was impressed by Trump’s support for China on predatory actions in trade. As a result, he backed the U.S in its security concerns about Chinese tech giant Huawei.

2. He helped establish The Free Egyptians, a liberal political party, during the beginning of Egypt’s uprisings (Day of Revolt) in 2011.

3. His philanthropic nature led him in 2015 to extend a hand of help to refugees when he offered to purchase a Greek or Italian island to house Syrian refugees, but Greece and Italy declined his offer.

10. Patrice Motsepe, $2.6 Billion [South African]
Source of wealth: Mining

Africa's top 10 billionaires

  • Date of Birth: 28 January 1962
  • Country: South Africa
  • Residence: Johannesburg
  • Education: University of Swaziland, University of the Witwatersrand
  • Source of Wealth: Mining
  • Net Worth: $2.6 billion

Motsepe has been among the richest men in South Africa for quite some time, and this time he made it to the list of Africa’s top 10 billionaires. His success story shows that he was first exposed to the business world by his father, who owned a small business. The business magnate has over the years built his empire and is the owner of African Rainbow Minerals. Through this business venture, he became a billionaire in 2008 and also the first black African on the Forbes list. Motsepe has a stake in Sanlam, a financial services firm. He is also the owner of African Rainbow Capital, which primarily invests in Africa. He was also the first black partner at law firm Browman Gilfillan, in Johannesburg.

Key Takeaways

1. Motsepe loves sports a lot. He is the owner of the Mamelodi Sundowns Football Club.

2. He also owns a 37% stake in the Blue Bulls Co., South Africa’s best performing rugby team.

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