In Africa—as elsewhere in the world—the wealthiest have come through the pandemic just fine. The continent’s 18 billionaires are worth an average US$4.1B, 12% more than a year ago, driven in part by Nigeria’s surging stock market.
For the tenth year in a row, Aliko Dangote of Nigeria is the continent’s richest person, worth US$12.1B, up by US$2B 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, worth US$8.5B and whose largest asset is a nearly 6% stake in sportswear maker Adidas.
At number three, worth US$8B is Nicky Oppenheimer of SouthAfrica, 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 US$5.1B.
While some got richer by the billions, two from the 2020 list of Africa’s richest dropped below the US$1B 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 US$1B due to lower oil prices.
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 US$1.14B. Forbes has marked Dos Santos’ frozen assets at zero. Through a spokesperson, Dos Santos declined to comment.
The 18 billionaires from Africa hail from seven different countries. South Africa and Egypt each have five billionaires, followed by Nigeria with three and Morocco with two. Altogether they are worth US$73.8B, slightly more than the US$73.4B aggregate worth of the 20 billionaires on last year’s list of Africa’s richest people.