Pandemic dips Mo fortune, retains high rank in Africa

26Jan 2022
By Guardian Reporter
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Pandemic dips Mo fortune, retains high rank in Africa

ENTREPRENEUR Mohamed Dewji’s fortune has declined by early this month to an estimated $1.5bn from $1.6bn a year ago, an update by the US personal wealth chronicle, Forbes Magazine, has revealed.

World billionaires’ net worth were calculated using stock prices and currency exchange rates from the close of business on Wednesday, January 19, where the report cited lower multiples for publicly traded competitors as explaining the local billionaire’s dip in personal wealth.

The report indicated that Africa’s billionaires became richer last year despite devastating impacts of the global pandemic, with the continent’s 18 billionaires now worth an estimated $84.9bn, which implies a 15 per cent increase within a year and the most since 2014 when a larger number of billionaires (listed as 28) were worth $96.5bn when combined.

“On average, the continent’s billionaires are worth $4.7 billion now as compared to $3.4 billion in 2014,” the global media company said in its latest report published on Monday, a product of a study that tracked the wealth of African billionaires who reside in Africa or have their primary business within the continent.

It excluded the Sudanese-born billionaire Mo Ibrahim, who is a U.K. citizen and Mohamed Al-Fayed, an Egyptian billionaire who resides in London. However, Strive Masiyiwa, a citizen of Zimbabwe and a London resident, appeared on the list because of his telecom holdings in Africa.

Soaring stock prices from Nigeria to Zimbabwe lifted the fortunes of tycoons, as demand for products from cement to luxury goods ticked up, with only two out of the 18 billionaires being worth less than last year—Mohammed Dewji of Tanzania and Koos Bekker of South Africa, it elaborated.

Bekker dropped to $2.7bn from $2.8bn as the share prices of consumer internet firms Naspers and Prosus fell more than 20 per cent each, the findings indicated. None of the 18 billionaires from Africa are new to the ranks, and they hail from seven different countries, it affirmed.

For the 11th year in a row, Aliko Dangote of Nigeria remained the continent’s richest person, worth an estimated $13.9bn, up from $12.1bn last year following a 30 per cent increase in the stock price of Dangote Cement, his most valuable asset.

Analysts found that a surge in housing developments in Nigeria and growth in government infrastructure spending drove higher cement demand in the first nine months of 2021, while luxury goods magnate, Johann Rupert of South Africa, earlier ranked fourth among the billionaires, rose to second spot in the latest rankings.

A more than 60 per cent surge in the share price of his Companies Financiere Richemont–maker of Cartier watches and Montblanc pens–pushed his fortune to $11bn, up from $7.2 billion a year ago, making him the biggest dollar gainer on the list, the report says.

South African Nicky Oppenheimer, who formerly ran diamond mining firm DeBeers before selling it to Anglo American mining giant a decade ago, ranks number three, and worth an estimated $8.7 billion.

The biggest gainer in percentage terms –up 125%— is Strive Masiyiwa of Zimbabwe, worth $2.7bn, up from $1.2bn last year. Shares of Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, which he founded, rose more than 750 per cent in the past year, helping to drive up the size of his fortune, it said.

Nigerian cement tycoon Abdulsamad Rabiu is $1.5bn richer after taking yet another of his companies public in early January, listing his sugar and food firm BUA Foods on the Nigerian stock exchange.

The billionaire himself and his son retained a 96 per cent stake in the company which recently had a market capitalization of nearly $2.8bn, the report noted.

While South Africa and Egypt have five billionaires each, Nigeria currently has three and Morocco fields two, with the entire continent’s billionaires being men. The last woman to appear in the ranks, Isabel dos Santos of Angola, fell off the Forbes list early last year, it added.