Nigerians top the list of Africa’s Billonaires

With 20 billionaires, Nigeria has emerged tops on the list of members of the ultra-rich club in Africa.
According to a compilation done by Ventures Africa magazine, there are 55 billionaires on the continent with a combined fortune of $143.88 billion and an average net worth of $2.6 billion.
While Nigeria has 20 billionaires, including several oil barons, South Africa and Egypt boast nine and eight respectively.
A report by Agence France Presse (AFP), on the list of African billionaires, said the compilation showed that there were far more African billionaires than previously thought.
Previous Africa-rich-lists named as few as 16 billionaires, but Ventures said its exhaustive research had identified at least 55 on a continent where the wealthy often fiercely protect details about their fortunes.
The pan-African business magazine said it was able to uncover dozens of new billionaires by using “on-the-ground knowledge” to overcome hurdles that may have “hampered” other researchers.
Ventures’ supported reports by Forbes, which listed Nigeria’s Aliko Dangote as Africa’s richest man with a fortune of $20.2 billion (15 billion euros).
Dangote, who made his fortune in cement, heads a multi-interest empire, profiting from products, including flour and sugar, while eyeing a massive investment in oil refining.
The continent’s richest woman is Nigeria’s Folorunsho Alakija, whose Fama Oil owns an offshore oil block, which she acquired in 1993 “at a relatively inexpensive price”, likely through a helpful connection, the magazine said.
Alakija studied fashion in London, then made dresses for Maryam Babaginda, the late wife of former military president, Gen. Ibrahim Babaginda.
The former designer “is believed to have ridden on the crest of this relationship to acquire an oil block,” off the Niger Delta in southern Nigeria, said Ventures.
Also named among Nigeria’s member of ultra-rich is former Managing Director of Zenith Bank Plc, Mr. Jim Ovia, whose networth is put at $1.5 billion.
Ovia set up the bank, one of the largest commercial banks in Nigeria, in 1990. He currently owns nine per cent stake in the bank, according to Ventures Africa. He has also set up Nigerian mobile operator Visafone and has acquired investments in real estate.
The most prominent South African named is Nicky Oppenheimer, worth an estimated $6.5 billion, whose fortune came largely from the diamond mines his family controlled for decades, which were operated by De Beers. Oppenheimer sold his family’s stake in De Beers two years ago.
The figure of 55 is “actually an under-estimate” of Africa’s billionaires, Chi-Chi Okonjo, the founder of Ventures, told AFP.
“People are not comfortable disclosing their wealth,” he said.
The apparently rising number of ultra-rich Africans has come amid broader economic growth on the continent, which has seen an average of five per cent GDP expansion since 2010.
But economic growth has not kept up with a rising population.
“There are more than twice as many extremely poor people living in sub-Saharan Africa today (414 million) than there were three decades ago (205 million),” the World Bank said in April.
It is the only region where “the number of poor people individuals has risen steadily and dramatically,” over the last 30 years, the bank said.