According to Forbes —the Covid-19 pandemic did not affect the wealthiest people in Africa like in other parts of the world. Africa’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. it was also noted in the report that Nigeria’s Aliko Dangote remains the continent’s richest person for the past 10 years in a row, and 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 second richest is Nassef Sawiris of Egypt, whose largest asset is a nearly 6% stake in sportswear maker Adidas. At number three: Nicky Oppenheimer of South Africa, who inherited a stake in diamond firm DeBeers and ran the company until 2012, when he sold his family’s 40% stake in DeBeers to mining giant AngloAmerican for $5.1 billion.
The biggest gainer this year 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. One thing to note: 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 paltry sum, to be sure. 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%.)
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.