Surge to 29 from Two a Decade Ago
The number of African billionaires in the Forbes richest people list of 2014 has surged to 29 from only two a decade ago, in 2003. The two people listed then were both from South Africa and its has been growing diversified and reached 20 last year.The Nigerian cement tycoon Alico Dangote is the richest man in Africa for the fourth year in a row and has leaped forward 20 spots to become the 23rd richest person in the world with a net worth of USD25 billion in the Forbes 2014 richest people list. He was 43rd in the previous year’s list with a net asset of USD20.8 billion.
His company Dangote Group is West Africa’s largest industrial conglomerate engaged in cement production, flour milling, sugar refining and food and beverages. Dangote is aggressively expanding his cement company across new markets in Africa, recently announcing plans to build new plants in Kenya and Niger. The company is now present in 15 African countries and announced plans to construct a private oil refinery and is building a tomato paste factory in Nigeria.
The Ethiopian born Saudi, Sheik Mohammed Hussien Al Amoudi ranked 61 with a net wealth of USD15.3 billion improving four ranks from 65 last year with a net worth of USD13.5 billion. Mohammed Al-Amoudi, the son of a Saudi father and Ethiopian mother, made his initial fortune in large-ticket construction projects in Saudi Arabia. He has been investing heavily in Ethiopia through his private holding company, Midroc Ethiopia Technology Group. Midroc’s assets in Ethiopia include hotels, gold mines, leather factories, pharmaceuticals and cement manufacturing outfits. He also owns a 70Pct stake in the National Oil Company of Ethiopia. Outside Ethiopia, he owns oil refineries in Morocco and Sweden and oil fields off West Africa.
Bill Gates is back on top after a four-year hiatus, reclaiming the title of world’s richest person from telecom mogul Carlos Slim Helu of Mexico, who ranked number 1 for the past four years. Gates, whose fortune rose by USD9 billion in the past year to reach USD76 billion, has held the top spot for 15 of the past 20 years. Spanish clothing retailer Amancio Ortega (best known for the Zara fashion chain) retains the number 3 spot for the second year in a row, extending his lead over Warren Buffett, who is again in fourth place. American gambling tycoon Sheldon Adelson, who added USD11.5 billion to his pile, makes it back into the top ten for the first time since 2007.
Roughly two-thirds of the billionaires built their own fortunes, 13Pct inherited them and 21Pct have been adding on to fortunes they received. Still not all countries–or tycoons–had good years. Turkey lost 19 billionaires due to soaring inflation, a sagging stock market and a declining value in its currency. Indonesia, whose currency tumbled 20Pct against the dollar, now has 8 fewer ten-figure fortunes. Altogether 100 people dropped out of the ranks, while another 16 passed away.
Though getting to the USD1 billion mark isn’t a race, this year, some just got there faster. Of the 1,645 members of the Forbes Billionaires list, 31 are under the age of 40. That elite group no longer includes the Google guys, Sergey Brin andLarry Page, both of whom have crossed into their 40s. One unexpected twist: this year’s group includes a new youngest billionaire.
The 31 youngest people on the 2014 Billionaires list have a combined net worth of USD115.7 billion. Facebook employees past, present and future–including Sean Parker, Mark Zuckerberg and WhatApp’s Jan Koum–account for 42Pct of that. Koum, a newcomer following Facebook’s decision to purchase WhatsApp, is worth USD6.8 billion. He sold his mobile messaging company to the Menlo Park, California based social networking company for USD19 billion in stock and cash last month. Thirteen of the world’s young and wealthy call the U.S. home, while the others hail from the rest of the globe.
The ranks of the world’s billionaires continue to scale new heights and stretch to new corners of the world. The total number of billionaires has reached 1,645 with an aggregate net worth of USD6.4 trillion, up from 5.4 a year ago. The new list has unearthed a record 268 new ten-figure fortunes, nine of them from Africa including from Tanzania and Uganda. The Total number of Women billionaires have reached a record high of 172 women on the list, more than ever before and up from 138 last year. The Nigerian oil tycoon Folorunsho Alakija joins American TV mogul Oprah Winfrey and Isabel dos Santos of Angola as the only black female billionaires on the list. Other African billionaires are increasing their wealth and coming to the top spots. Nigerian, South African, Egyptian and Moroccans are getting visible.
Africa’s risks are mainly perceived and not real, the richest person in Africa Alico Dangote said at the 2014 World Economic Forum in Davos. “Unfortunately for us in Africa we are not really very good at telling our own story” he told business and political leaders of the world. But things are changing and people are beginning to understand that things are going very, very well. This numbers particularly are showing that Africa is the next power house of wealth and economic transformation. EBR
2nd Year • March 2014 • No 13