Mo Dewji among the 20 top African billionaires of 2019

16Jan 2019
By Financial Times Reporter
Financial Times
Mo Dewji among the 20 top African billionaires of 2019
  • Valued at &$1.9 billion (about 4.37 trillion/- at the current market exchange rate, the managing director of Mohammed Enterprises Tanzania Limited (MeTL) is the 14th richest person in Africa and the only East African in the list

Tanzanian business tycoon and philanthropist Mohammed Dewji, popularly known as Mo, has been listed among the 20 wealthiest people in Africa in 2019.

With a net worth $10.3 billion (close to 23.7 trillion/-), Nigerian business mogul Aliko Dangote (left) remains the richest person in Africa whose top 20 list includes Mohammed Dewji (right) and only two women, the $2.3 billion rich Isabel dos Santos (centre) of Angola and NigerianFolorunsho Alakija ($1.1 billion). File photo

Dewji, chief executive officer of Mohammed Enterprises Tanzania Limited (MeTL), is the only businessman from East Africa in the list.



Only two women have been listed; one is Isabel dos Santos, the daughter of former Angolan president Jose Eduardo dos Santos, whose father stepped down from power in 2017. Isabel’s father made her head of Angola’s state oil firm Sonangol in June 2016 - a role she had to give up in 2017 after Angola’s new president removed her.


The other woman is Folorunsho Alakija, vice chairperson of Nigerian oil exploration company Famfa Oil which has a stake in Agbami Oilfield, a prolific offshore asset.


Mo Dewji in Tanzania leads a conglomerate founded by his father in the 1970s. MeTL is active in textile manufacturing, flour milling, beverage and edible oil production in eastern, southern and central Africa.


The latest Forbes list for the top billionaires in Africa was released on January 9

with Nigerian businessman Aliko Dangote continuing to dominate the number one spot, despite experiencing a significant drop of over $2 billion in profits.

Nigerians dominate the list.


Being a billionaire is the world’s most envious individual monetary status, with only a select few people being able to reach such heights. Every year, the Forbes list sees new names debuting and old names departing the list.


The full 2019 list is as follows:


Aliko Dangote – Net worth $10.3 billion

Dangote founded and chairs Dangote Cement, the continent’s largest cement producer. He owns nearly 88 per cent of the publicly-traded Dangote Cement through a holding company.


Dangote Cement produces 44 million metric tons annually and plans to increase its output by 33 per cent by 2020. Dangote also owns stakes in publicly-traded salt, sugar, and flour manufacturing companies.


2. Mike Adenuga- Net worth $9.2 billion                                                        

Nigeria’s second richest man built his fortune in telecoms and oil production. His mobile phone network Globacom is the third largest operator in Nigeria, with 43 million subscribers. His oil exploration outfit Conoil Producing operates six oil blocks in the Niger Delta. Adenuga got an MBA at Pace University in New York, supporting himself as a student by working as a taxi driver. He made his first million at 26, selling lace and distributing soft drinks.


3. Nicky Oppenheimer & family- Net worth $7.3 billion                                        

Oppenheimer, the heir to his family’s fortune, sold his 40 per cent stake in South Africa’s diamond firm DeBeers to mining group Anglo American for $5.1 billion in cash in 2012.


He was the third generation of his family to run DeBeers, and took the company private in 2001. For 85 years until 2012, the Oppenheimer family occupied a controlling spot in the world’s diamond trade. Nicky Oppenheimer now owns an estimated 1 per cent stake in Anglo American, founded by his grandfather in 1917.


4. Nassef Sawiris- Net worth $6.3 billion                                                                       

Sawiris is a scion of Egypt’s wealthiest family. His brother Naguib is also a billionaire. Sawiris split Orascom Construction Industries into two entities in 2015; OCI and Orascom Construction.


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. Orascom Construction, an engineering and building firm, trades on the Cairo exchange and Nasdaq Dubai.


Sawiris’ holdings include stakes in cement giant Lafarge Holcim and Adidas - he sits on the supervisory board of Adidas.


5. Johann Rupert & family – Net worth $5.3 billion

Johann Rupert is chairman of Swiss luxury goods firm Compagnie Financiere Richemont, best known for the brands Cartier and Montblanc.


It was formed in 1998 through a spinoff of assets owned by Rembrandt Group Limited (now Remgro Limited), which his father Anton formed in the 1940s.

He owns a seven per cent stake in diversified investment firm Remgro, which he chairs, as well as 25 per cent of Reinet, an investment holding co. based in Luxembourg. In recent years, Rupert has been a vocal opponent of plans to allow fracking in the Karoo, a region of South Africa where he owns land.


6. Issad Rebrab & Family – Net worth $3.7 billion

Issad Rebrab is the founder and CEO of Cevital, Algeria’s biggest privately-held company. Cevital owns one of the largest sugar refineries in the world, with the capacity to produce two million tons a year. Rebrab also has his fingers in several European companies, including French home appliances maker Groupe Brandt, an Italian steel mill and a German water purification company.

Rebrab has plans to build a steel mill in Brazil to produce train tracks and improve transportation logistics for sugar, corn and soy flour exports. His five children work at Cevital.


7. Naguib Sawiris – Net worth $2.9 billion

Just like his brother Nassef, Naguib Sawaris is a scion of Egypt’s wealthiest family. He built a fortune in telecoms, selling Orascom Telecom in 2011 to Russian telecom firm VimpelCom (now Veon) in a multibillion-dollar transaction.

Family holding La Mancha has stakes in Evolution Mining, Endeavour Mining and Golden Star which operate gold mines in Africa and Australia. In 2017, he shifted ownership of La Mancha to his mother, Yousriya Loza-Sawiris, for estate planning purposes.


8. Koos Bekker - Net worth $2.3 billion

Koos Bekker is revered for transforming South African newspaper publisher Naspers into an e-commerce investor & cable TV powerhouse.  He led Naspers to invest in Chinese internet and media firm Tencent in 2000, by far the most profitable of the bets he made on companies elsewhere.


Bekker, who retired as CEO of Naspers in March 2014, returned as chairman in April 2015. During his tenure as CEO which began in 1997, Bekker oversaw a rise in the company’s market capitalization from about $600 million to $45 billion. In that time he drew no salary, bonus, or benefits, and was compensated via stock option grants that vested over time.


9. Isabel dos Santos- Net worth $2.3 billion

Isabel dos Santos is the oldest daughter of Angola’s long time former president Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who stepped down in 2017.  Her father made her head of Sonangol, Angola’s state oil firm, in June 2016; a role she had to give up in 2017 after Angola’s new president removed her.

Forbes research found that while he was president, Isabel’s father transferred to her stakes in several Angolan companies, including banks and a telecom firm. She owns shares in several major Portuguese companies including telecom and cable TV firm Nos SGPS.


A spokesperson for Isabel described her as “an independent businesswoman and a private investor representing solely her own interests.”


10. Mohamed Mansour- Net worth $2.3 billion

Mohamed Mansour oversees family conglomerate Mansour Group, which was founded by his father Loutfy in 1952 and has 60,000 employees. Mansour established General Motors dealerships in Egypt in 1975, later becoming one of GM’s biggest distributors worldwide. The Mansour Group also has exclusive distribution rights for Caterpillar equipment in Egypt and seven other African countries.


Mansour served as Egypt’s transportation minister from 2006 to 2009, under the Hosni Mubarak regime. His brothers Yasseen and Youssef, who share ownership in the family group, are also billionaires; his son Loutfy heads private equity arm Man Capital.


11. Strive Masiyiwa- Net worth $2.3 billion

Strive Masiyiwa overcame protracted government opposition to launch mobile phone network Econet Wireless Zimbabwe in his country of birth in 1998. He owns just over 50 per cent of the publicly-traded telecom, which is one part of his larger Econet Group.


Masiyiwa also owns just over half of private company Liquid Telecom, which provides fibre optic and satellite services to telecom firms across Africa. His other assets include stakes in mobile phone networks in Burundi and Lesotho, and investments in fintech and power distribution firms in Africa. He and his wife Tsitsi founded the Higherlife Foundation which supports orphaned and poor children in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Burundi and Lesotho.


12. Patrice Motsepe- Net worth $2.3 billion

Patrice Motsepe, the founder and chairman of African Rainbow Minerals, became a billionaire in 2008 – the first black African on the Forbes list. In 2016, he launched a new private equity firm, African Rainbow Capital, focused on investing in Africa.


Motsepe also has a stake in Sanlam, a listed financial services firm, and is president and owner of the Mamelodi Sundowns Football Club. He became the first black partner at law firm Bowman Gilfillan in Johannesburg, then started a contracting business doing mine scout work. In 1994, he bought low-producing gold mine shafts and later turned them profitable.


13. Aziz Akhannouch & family – Net worth $2.1 billion

Aziz Akhannouch is the majority owner of Akwa Group, a multibillion-dollar conglomerate founded by his father and a partner, Ahmed Wakrim, in 1932. It has interests in petroleum, gas and chemicals through publicly-traded Afriquia Gaz and Maghreb Oxygene. Akhannouch is Morocco’s Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, and president of a royalist political party.


14. Mohammed Dewji - Net worth $1.9 billion

Mohammed Dewji is CEO of MeTL, a Tanzanian conglomerate founded by his father in the 1970s. MeTL is active in textile manufacturing, flour milling, beverages and edible oils in eastern, southern and central Africa. It operates in at least six African countries, and has ambitions to expand to several more.


Dewji, Tanzania’s only recognised billionaire, signed the Giving Pledge in 2016, promising to donate at least half of his fortune to philanthropic causes.


15. Othman Benjelloun & family- Net worth $1.7 billion

Othman Benjelloun is CEO of BMCE Bank of Africa, which has a presence in more than 20 African countries. His father was a shareholder in RMA Watanya, a Moroccan insurance company, which Benjelloun built into a leading insurer.

Through his holding company FinanceCom, he has a stake in the Moroccan arm of French telecom firm Orange.


Benjelloun inaugurated a $500 million plan to build the 55-story Mohammed VI Tower in Rabat. It will be one of the tallest buildings in Africa. FinanceCom is part of a project to develop a multibillion-dollar tech city in Tangiers that is expected to host 200 Chinese companies.


16. Abdulsamad Rabiu – Net worth $1.6 billion

Abdulsamad Rabiu is the founder of BUA Group, a Nigerian conglomerate active in cement production, sugar refining, and real estate. In December 2018, Rabiu merged his privately-owned Kalambaina Cement Company with listed firm Cement Co. of Northern Nigeria, which he controlled. His BUA Group also owns Obu Cement, which expanded its production with a new line in 2018.


Rabiu, the son of a businessman, inherited land from his father and set up his own business in 1988 importing iron, steel and chemicals.


17. Yasseen Mansour – Net worth $1.5 billion

Yasseen Mansour is a shareholder in family-owned conglomerate Mansour Group, which was founded by his father Loutfy in 1952. Mansour Group is the exclusive distributor of GM vehicles and Caterpillar equipment in Egypt and several other countries. His brothers Mohamed and Youssef are also billionaires and part owners of the group. He is chairman of Palm Hills Developments, one of Egypt’s biggest real estate developers.


18. Youssef Mansour – Net worth $1.2 billion

Youssef Mansour is chairman of the family-owned conglomerate Mansour Group, which was founded by his father Loutfy in 1952. Mansour Group is the exclusive distributor of GM vehicles and Caterpillar equipment in Egypt and several other countries. He oversees the consumer goods division, which includes supermarket chain Metro and sole distribution rights for L’Oreal in Egypt.


Younger brothers Mohamed and Yasseen are also billionaires and part-owners of Mansour Group.


19. Folorunsho Alakija – Net worth $1.1 billion

Folorunsho Alakija is vice chair of Famfa Oil, a Nigerian oil exploration company with a stake in the Agbami Oilfield, a prolific offshore asset.  Famfa Oil’s partners include Chevron and Petrobras. Alakija’s first company was a fashion label whose customers included the wife of former Nigerian president Ibrahim Babangida.


The Nigerian government awarded Alakija’s company an oil prospecting license in 1993, later converted to an oil mining lease. The Agbami field has been operating since 2008; Famfa Oil says it will likely operate through 2024.


19. Michiel Le Roux – Net worth $1.1 billion

South Africa’s Michiel Le Roux founded Capitec Bank in 2001 and owns an about 11 per cent stake. The bank, which trades on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, targets South Africa’s emerging middle class. He served as chairman of the board of Capitec from 2007 to 2016, and has continued on as a board member. Le Roux previously also ran Boland Bank, a small regional bank in Cape Town’s hinterland.



Top Stories