The president of the Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, has retained his position as the richest person in Africa with a net worth of $13.9 billion in the 2024 Forbes list of 20 of Africa’s Richest billionaires released yesterday.
According to Forbes, the fortunes of Africa’s wealthiest people rebounded slightly in the past 12 months, reversing the decline in their fortunes from a year ago, though they were still off their all-time highs.
The New Jersey-based media outfit pointed out that the 20 billionaires on the 2024 Forbes list of Africa’s Richest were worth a combined $82.4 billion, which was up $900 million from last year’s $81.5 billion.
However, executive chairman of Geregu Power Plc and a non-executive director FBN Holdings, Femi Otedola, was named among the 20 richest persons in Africa. Otedola was listed as the 19th richest person in Africa with net worth of $1.1 billion.
Specifically, Forbes attributed the improvement in the net worth of those listed to the return of Otedola, whom, it said, last appeared on the Forbes Africa list in 2017 when he held a controlling stake in fuel distributor, Forte Oil.
“Otedola phased out his oil investments during a government push to privatise the country’s energy business in 2013, using a Forte subsidiary to purchase Geregu, a public power generation plant.
“He owned about 90 per cent of Geregu when it was listed on the Nigerian exchange’s Main Board in 2022, but has since sold shares to institutional investors, which include Afreximbank’s Fund for Export Development in Africa and the State Grid Corporation of China.
“His 73 per cent stake in Geregu is worth more than $850 million, about three-quarters of his $1.1 billion fortune, which puts him at No. 20 on the list.
“After taking Otedola’s comeback into account, Africa’s billionaires dipped slightly, but still fared better than the decline of four per cent last year, when African markets faded in sync with equity values around the world.
“This year, African equities joined a late-year global rally, with the S&P All Africa index rising 10 per cent in the final two months of 2023 but still ended down more than 9% in the 12 months through January 8, 2024,” Forbes stated.
However, Dangote was closely followed by Johann Rupert and Family from South Africa, with net worth of $10.1 billion; another South African businessman, Nicky Oppenheimer and his family, with net worth of $9.4 billion; Nassef Sawiris with net worth of $8.7 billion; Nigeria’s Mike Adenuga with net worth of $6.9 billion and the chairman of BUA Group, Abdulsamad Rabiu, with net worth of $5.9 billion, in that order.
This year South Africa claimed six spots on the ranking, followed by Egypt with five and Nigeria with four. Algeria, Tanzania and Zimbabwe each has one billionaire on the list, while Morocco has two.
Furthermore, Forbes noted that Africa “remains one of the world’s toughest places to build – and hold onto – a billion-dollar fortune, as global investors remain leery of its stock exchanges, businesses struggle against strained economies, poor infrastructure and volatile exchange rates, while changing political winds can make, boost or bust private fortunes.”
It quoted head of Macro Strategy at asset manager, FIM Partners, Charles Robertson, to have noted that entrepreneurs often face limited access to capital and populations with little disposable income to invest in new companies or the stock market.
A turbulent 2023 also made African equities less attractive for foreign investors.
“You’ve got two negatives for investors. Weakening domestic [currencies], which is pushing up inflation, and tax rises, which is hurting the companies they’re investing in,” Robertson added.
“Central banks have been hiking rates as well, so you’ve had big rate hikes and currency weakness and tax rises all at once. And if there was any chance that mix wasn’t going to deter all foreign investors, then throw in multiple coups happening, and it just created a very nasty storm.
“That environment favours entrenched family fortunes or those with close ties to government that continue to dominate the ranks of Africa’s richest. Nigeria’s Alike Dangote, whose fortune rose $400 million to $13.9 billion, claimed the ranking’s number one spot for the 13th year in a row, despite the political uncertainty following the February presidential election and a devaluation of the naira in 2023 that offset the rising share price of Dangote Cement.
“The biggest decline on this year’s list belongs to Algerian industrial magnate Issad Rebrab, who was barred by a court in May from exercising any commercial or management duties at his conglomerate Cevital.”