Africa’s billionaires have performed just fine despite the pandemic. The continent’s 18 billionaires are worth an average $4.1 billion, 12% more than a year ago, driven in part by Nigeria’s surging stock market, according to Forbes.
For the tenth year in a row, Aliko Dangote of Nigeria maintained his standing as the continent’s richest person for the tenth year ina row. He is worth $12.1 billion, up by $2 billion from last year’s list thanks to a roughly 30% rise in the share price of Dangote Cement, by far his most valuable asset.
The biggest gainer this year, however, is another Nigerian cement tycoon, Abdulsamad Rabiu. Remarkably, shares of his BUA Cement PLC, which listed on the Nigeria Stock Exchange in January 2020, have doubled in value in the past year. That pushed Rabiu’s fortune up by an extraordinary 77%, to $5.5 billion.
According to Forbes, Rabiu and his son together own about 97% of the company, giving the company a tiny public float. The Nigerian Stock Exchange requires that either 20% or more of a company’s shares to be floated to the public, or that the floated shares are worth at least 20 billion naira — about $50 million. A spokesman for the Nigerian Stock Exchange told Forbes that BUA Cement meets the second requirement. (Forbes discounts the value of stakes when the public float of a company is less than 5%.)
Forbes stated that while some got richer by the billions, two from the 2020 list of Africa’s richest dropped below the $1 billion mark. In fact, the only two women billionaires from Africa have both fallen off the list. Forbes calculates that the fortune of Folorunsho Alakija of Nigeria, who owns an oil exploration company, dropped below $1 billion due to lower oil prices. And Isabel dos Santos, who since 2013 has been the richest woman in Africa, was knocked from her perch by a series of court decisions freezing her assets in both Angola and Portugal.
In January 2020, the attorney general of Angola charged Dos Santos with embezzlement and money laundering. The Angolan court claimed that actions taken by Dos Santos, her husband Sindika Dokolo (who died in October 2020, reportedly in a scuba diving accident) and one other associate caused the Angolan government losses of at least $1.14 billion. Forbes has marked Dos Santos’ frozen assets at zero. Through a spokesperson, Dos Santos declined to comment.
The 18 billionaires from Africa hail from seven different countries. South Africa and Egypt each have five billionaires, followed by Nigeria with three and Morocco with two. Altogether they are worth $73.8 billion, slightly more than the $73.4 billion aggregate worth of the 20 billionaires on last year’s list of Africa’s richest people.
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