Jim-OviaMore Nigerians have joined the continent’s billionaire league, according to a new study undertaken by African business magazine and news service, Ventures Africa. The new rich list names Abdulsamad Rabiu, Jim Ovia, Jide Omokore, and Bode Akindele amongst Africa’s billionaires.

The new research says Africa is the world’s fastest growing emerging market and is home to 55 billionaires, up from a previous estimate of 25, with an average net worth of $2.6bn.

The price of oil, which topped $100 a barrel this year, up from $20 a barrel in early 2000, is adjudged to be at the root of this new crop of African billionaires.

These super rich are worth a combined total of $143.88bn (£89.27bn), in contrast to the UK, which is home to 84 billionaires who are worth nearly £250bn, according to 2013 Sunday Times Rich List.

With 55 billionaires, Africa is comparable to Latin America, which has 51 at the last count (Forbes). However, Africa has some way to go if it is to top the super-rich tally in Asia, which is home to 399 billionaires as of 2013.

The new study, undertaken by Ventures Africa, is the most extensive list ever compiled, claims founder Chi-Chi Okonjo. It reveals the “true wealth” of Africa’s richest people, he said.

Jim Ovia, founder and first managing director of Zenith Bank plc, one of Nigeria’s leading financial institutions, also made the list with net worth of $1.5 billion. Ovia is also the chairman of Nigeria’s fledging telecommunications company, Visafone.

According to Ventures Africa, there are a large number of African billionaires on its list whose fortunes have never been accurately calculated before. These include Strive Masiyiwa of Zimbabwe, who is worth $1.46 billion, and Abdulsamad Rabiu of Nigeria, whose net worth is $1.4 billion.

Rabiu is one of the most notable players in the real sector of the Nigerian economy, calling the shots in the cement industry with a large percentage of the nation’s cement market share. He also has interest in sugar and flour business in Nigeria.

Others are Aziz Akhannouch (Morocco, $1.39 billion), Jide Omokore (Nigeria, $1.32 billion), and Bode Akindele (Nigeria, $1.19 billion).

Jide Omokore is an oil and gas tycoon and owns a fledging petroleum dealing firm called Spog Petroleum and Gas.

“This list is a tribute to the entrepreneurial heartbeat within Africa,” said Okonjo.

The richest man in Africa remains cement, sugar and flour tycoon, Aliko Dangote. The Nigerian is worth $20.2bn. This figure is slightly up on Forbes’ estimation of $16.1bn for his wealth as of March this year.

In second place, South African financier Allan Gray holds assets worth at least $8.5bn.

Third on the list, Nigerian Mike Adenuga, with operations in the oil and telecoms industries, has an estimated fortune of $8bn. His major investment is in Globacom, and Conoil which plays in both the downstream and upstream petroleum industry.

Africa’s wealthiest woman, Nigerian oil tycoon Folorunsho Alakija, is worth $7.3bn. She is the owner of Famfa Oil, which sold 40 percent of its oil block to Chevron recently.

The median age of Africa’s billionaires stands at 65 years, with the youngest billionaires both at 38. These young guns are Tanzanian Mohammed Dewji, head of the largest textile manufacturer in sub-Saharan Africa, and Nigerian oil trader Igho Sanomi.

The oldest billionaires are Manu Chandaria, a Kenyan industrialist, and Mohammed Al-Fayed, the Egyptian property tycoon and Harrods boss, who are both 84.

Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt have the most billionaires with 20, nine and eight, respectively. In total, ten African countries are represented on the list.

The list was compiled using financial reports, by tracking equity holdings around stock markets and identifying specific shareholding structures in large, privately-held companies. The results have been corroborated with investment bankers, realtors and financial analysts to determine proper values for companies, real estate and other assets, such as art collections, jets, yachts and jewellery.


Information from Business Day was used in this report.