John Campbell

Africa in Transition

Campbell tracks political and security developments across sub-Saharan Africa.

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Really, Really Rich People in Africa

by John Campbell
March 27, 2014

Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan (back L) looks on as Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote points to the site of a new cement plant branch during a commissioning ceremony at the Dangote cement factory in Obajana, Kogi state, June 11, 2012. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters)


According to Forbes, the first African ever has entered into the “top 25” of the world’s billionaires. He is Aliko Dangote, number 23. Forbes says that his net worth is now U.S. $25 billion up from $3.3 billion in 2007. His wealth is based on cement, but he is also investing in agriculture.

Forbes identifies twenty-nine African billionaires, fifteen if the fourteen from North Africa are excluded. Of those fifteen, seven are South African and four (including Dangote) are Nigerian. The other four are one each from Angola, Swaziland, Uganda, and Tanzania.

For the first time, there is also an African woman on Forbes’ list, Folorunsho Alakija, from Nigeria. Forbes estimates that her net worth is U.S. $2.5 billion. She is self-made; her fortune is based on fashion and oil.

The wealth of the South African billionaires comes from real estate, retail, diamonds, media, pharmaceuticals, “investments,” and mining. Only one, Patrice Motsepe, appears to be a black African. The Nigerians’ wealth is heavily based on oil, telecommunications, and cement.

It is no surprise that South Africa and Nigeria dominate the list. They are the first and second largest economies in sub-Saharan Africa.

Most, but not all, of these billionaires are self-made.

Nevertheless, sub-Saharan Africa still produces a tiny percentage of the world’s billionaires, whom Forbes estimates at 1,645 world-wide.

Post a Comment 1 Comment

  • Posted by Matt Jones

    “Most, but not all, of these billionaires are self-made.”

    What does that mean? What is the definition of “self-made?” As opposed to inherited? As opposed to embezzled or ill-gotten?

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