(HN, November 16, 2011) - A billionaire from oil-rich Nigeria leads the Forbes Magazine 2011 list of wealthiest individuals in Africa.
With a fortune estimated at $10.1 billion, Aliko Dangote made his billions from a stake in the pan-African, publicly-traded company, Dangote Cement. At just 53-years old, he also has interests in flour milling, sugar refining and salt processing. Dangote now accounts for a quarter of the Nigeria Stock Exchange's total market cap.
Dangote is among 16 billionaires identified by Forbes as Africa's 40 wealthiest individuals. Egypt clocked in with the most billionaires, at seven - and primarily from the Sawiri and Mansour families. None of the 40 wealthiest are female, Forbes said.
Documenting the true extent of wealth on the continent is almost impossible, with many dictators concealing their wealth offshore. In China and Russia, wealthy individuals have been known to threaten journalists who publicly document their wealth.
According to Forbes, Dangote's fortune "surged 557% in the past year, making him the world's biggest gainer in percentage terms and Africa's richest individual for the first time."
Dangote's base - Lagos - is set to become the most populous city in Africa, in already the most-populous nation in Africa - but one with extreme poverty, with the poverty rate above 70 percent, according to UN Habitat. According to Forbes, Dangote recently bought himself a $45 million Bombardier aircraft for his birthday.
Number Two on the list of Forbes' most wealthiest Africans is South African diamond magnate Nicky Oppenheimer. With an estimated fortune of $6.5 billion, he recently deepened his pockets by selling the family’s remaining stake in diamond miner DeBeers.
Number Three is Nassef Sawiris, who runs Orascom Construction Industries, Egypt's most valuable publicly-traded company, and is said to have a net worth of $4.75-billion.
Forbes acknowledges that much of Africa's private wealth is in the hands of current and former dictators. Among them it identifies two Nigerians: the late Sani Abacha, Nigeria’s former military ruler, who had stashed away at least $3 billion in offshore accounts; and, Nigeria’s former military president, Ibrahim Babangida, worth at least $12 billion.
Indicative of the inequality gap represented by the Forbes Africa list is that only six nations on the continent are represented: South Africa, with 15 wealthiest; Egypt, 9; Nigeria, 8; Morocco, 5; Kenya, 2; and Zimbabwe, 1.
- HUMNEWS staff