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Africa's billionaire boom

Africa is home to more than triple the number of billionaires than previously thought, according to a new rich list produced by a local business publication, putting it on par with Latin America in terms of its billionaire population.
Aliko Dangote, who topped the rich list
Sunday Alamba/AP/Press Association Images

Africa is home to more than triple the number of billionaires than previously thought, according to a new rich list produced by a local business publication, putting it on par with Latin America in terms of its billionaire population.

Ventures Africa, a business magazine and research group, pegs the number at 55 – much higher than the 16 catalogued by Forbes last year – and claims its inaugural Africa Rich List is the most thorough ever compiled. Latin America has 51 billionaires, according to Forbes.

According to the list, Africa's billionaires have a combined net worth of $143.9 billion, with an average net worth of $2.6 billion; however, only 10 of Africa's 54 countries were represented, indicating the inequality that exists between the continent's nations.

The wealth of those that made the list was most likely to be made in construction, financial services, oil and gas or manufacturing.

Ventures Africa founder Chi-chi Okonjo said its researchers' on-the-ground experience and knowledge of the African business landscape allowed them to negotiate problems that had hampered other African wealth researchers.

Fifty-six-year-old Nigerian entrepreneur Aliko Dangote, founder of the eponymous industrial conglomerate, topped the list with a fortune of $20.2 billion – 68% higher than a previous estimate of $12 billion.

The highest ranked woman was another Nigerian, Folorunsho Alakija, at number four, who had a net worth of $7.3 billion.

She founded The Rose of Sharon Group, which started out as a fashion company before diversifying into printing, and acquiring oil subsidiary Famfa.

The two youngest on billionaires were Mohammed Dewji from Tanzania and Igho Sanomi from Nigeria, both 38 years old.

Dewji is a politician and also the second-gen head of Mohammed Enterprises Tanzania, a group with interests in manufacturing, energy and financial services among others, while Sanomi founded energy and construction group Taleveras.

The researchers complied the report through financial reports, tracking equity holdings around stock markets, and analysing the shareholder structure of large, private companies. The value of assets such as property and art were independently verified by experts.

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