Top 10 billionaires in Africa and how they made their money

Updated: Jan 13


In January this year, Forbes released a list of the wealthiest people on the African continent. Altogether, the 20 African tycoons who made the list are worth $68.7 billion, putting them at an average net worth of $3.4 billion per person.

In a per country ranking, Egypt and South Africa have the highest country representatives with five billionaires each, Nigeria follows with four and Morocco with two. The Forbes list had one billionaire each from Algeria, Angola, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, and there were two women in the mix.

In this piece, we highlight the ten wealthiest people in Africa and how they made their money.


Aliko Dangote (Net worth: $10.3 B) Aliko Dangote’s journey to fortune is not a rag to riches story. He came from a wealthy family that was able to provide financial assistance to start his business. Regardless of this, he deserves credit for carving a niche of greatness for himself by becoming independent and staying away from family business to set up his own. Over the years, Dangote has expanded into new business segments, including telecommunications, real estate and steel manufacturing. Today his holding company, Dangote Group, is the largest conglomerate in West Africa.



Mike Adenuga (Net worth: $9.2 B) Adenuga come from humble beginnings. He attended the Ibadan Grammar School, Oyo State where he had his secondary school education. He worked as a taxi driver and security guard to support his education while studying at the Northwestern Alva Oklahoma State University and Pace University in New York.

He built is fortune in mobile telecom and oil production. Adenuga launched Globacom mobile phone network in 2006. The mobile phone network has reached about 30 million subscribers, advancing its operation in West Africa. Thus far, it has been operating in Nigeria, Benin, Ghana and the Ivory Coast.


Nicholas F. Oppenheimer (Net worth: $7.3 B) Like Dangote, Nicky was born into a wealthy family. His father, Harry Frederick Oppenheimer was a successful businessman in South Africa and one of the world’s richest men. In 2004, he was voted 60th in the SABC3’s Great South Africans. He was the chairman of Anglo-American Corporation for 25 years and chairman of De Beers for 27 years until he retired and passed on the position to his heir, Nicky.

De Beers is a diamond mining company. During an auction in the year 2016, the rare Oppenheimer Blue diamond, was sold for $57.5 million which set a record for the most expensive diamond sold at an auction. The Oppenheimer family maintained a dominating place in the world’s diamond trade for a really long time.


Nassef Sawiris (Net worth: $6.3 B) Nassef Sawiris is Egypt’s richest man with a fortune Forbes estimates at $7.2 billion. He runs OCI, one of the world’s largest nitrogen fertilizer producers. With plants in Texas and Iowa; it trades on the Euronext Amsterdam exchange. He owns 30 percent of OCI, a Geleen, Netherlands-based contractor which was formed out of a demerger from his family’s original business, Orascom Contruction. His holdings include stakes in cement giant Lafarge Holcim and Adidas. Last July, he teamed up with Fortress Investment Group’s Wes Edens to purchase a majority stake in Aston Villa Football Club.


Johann Rupert (Net worth: $5.3 B) According to Bloomberg, Rupert controls the world’s largest luxury watchmaker, Cie. Financiere Richemont, through a family trust. The Bellevue, Switzerland-based company’s brands include Jaeger-LeCoultre and Cartier. His other holdings include Remgro, a Stellenbosch, South Africa-based investment vehicle with stakes in more than 30 companies.

The majority of Rupert’s fortune is derived from Cie. Financiere Richemont, a publicly-traded luxury goods manufacturer and retailer, and the world’s largest luxury watchmaker, according to Bloomberg Intelligence data.


Issad Rebrab (Net worth: $3.7 B) Rebrab founded Cevital SPA in 1998 and also serves as its Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer. He is one of the first Algerians to go into the entrepreneurial world after independence.

In 1968, he created his own office of certified public accountant. One of his clients suggested to him to take shares in his company of metallurgic manufacture. In 1971 with the acquisition of 20 % of the capital of a metallurgic manufacture company, Sotecom, he entered the business world and then created other companies in the sectors of metallurgy and steel industry.


Naguib Sawiris (Net worth: $2.9 B) The second Sawiris owns stakes in gold mines through his closely held company, La Mancha Resources. The Luxembourg-based entity’s investments include stakes in Evolution Mining and Endeavor Mining. He’s also invested in Orascom Telecom Media and Technology, which has interests across the Middle East and North Africa.

The majority of Sawiris’ fortune is held in cash and closely held assets, most of which come from the sale of his stake in Russian telecommunications company Vimpelcom for almost $4.1 billion in 2011 and 2012. He acquired 20 percent of Vimpelcom in 2010 as part of a deal to sell most of his telecommunications assets, including Italy’s Wind Telecomunicazioni and 51 percent of Cairo-based Orascom Telecom Holding, for $1.5 billion plus the Vimplecom shares.


Koos Bekker (Net worth: $2.3 B) Bekker serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Radiant Lighting (Pty) Ltd. Mr. Bekker served as the Chief Executive of Naspers since 1997 March 31, 2014. He served as Chief Executive of the MIH Group until 1997. He led the founding team of M-Net in 1985. He has served as Chairman of Naspers since April 17, 2015.

He also serves as a Director of MIH B.V., MIH Mauritius, MultiChoice South Africa Holdings and other companies in the wider group. He serves as a Director of MIH Holdings Ltd., Media24 Ltd and Media24 Holdings (Proprietary) Limited. He was a founding director of MTN. He served on the local organising committee for the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup and the Council of the University of Stellenbosch. His qualifications include BA Hons and an honorary doctorate in commerce from Stellenbosch University, an LLB (Wits) and an MBA from Columbia University, New York.


Isabel dos Santos (Net worth: $2.3 B) Being the only woman in the top 10, dos Santos is the richest woman in Africa.

Isabel dos Santos is the oldest daughter of Angola’s longtime former president, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who stepped down in fall 2017. According to Forbes, while Isabel’s father was president, she ended up with stakes in Angolan companies including banks and a telecom firm. Her father also made her head of Sonangol, Angola’s state oil firm. She owns shares of Portuguese companies, including telecom and cable TV firm Nos SGPS.

In March this year, she secured a fresh mandate as board member of Angola’s biggest telecommunications company.


Mohamed Mansour (Net worth: $2.3 B) Mohamed Mansour oversees family conglomerate Mansour Group, which was founded by his father Loutfy (D.1976) in 1952 and has 60,000 employees.

Mohamed Mansour took over the Mansour Group in 1976. From early 2006 until October 2009, he was appointed as the Minister of Transport in Egypt, one of the largest service ministries employing more than 250,000 people.

Mohamed is the Founder and Chairman of Mansour Automotive Company (General Motors’ distributor in the world outside of China), Mantrac Group and Unatrac (Caterpillar’s distributor) and former Chairman of Crédit Agricole Egypt – the country’s second-largest bank.