Africa has attracted increasing interest as a growth story in recent years, with its abundant natural resources, thriving economies and demographics that promise to be a boon for retail investors.
As yet, Africa is sparsely populated with ultrawealthy individuals. The continent’s 55 billionaires have a combined fortune of $144 billion, according to Nigeria-based Ventures magazine’s survey of the richest people in Africa. Their average net worth is $2.6 billion.
All told, there are 1,453 individuals in the world with personal wealth of $1 billion or more, according to the Hurun Report. Asia is home to the largest share of billionaires with 608 individuals, followed by North America with 440 and Europe with 324.
Africa’s billionaires range in age from 38 to 84, Ventures reports. They derived their fortunes from a variety of business ventures, including financial services, mining, construction, energy and retail.
Three women made it into Ventures’ 2013 rankings, one into the top 10. The other two are Isabel Dos Santos, an Angolan investor and the daughter of Angola’s president, Eduardo Dos Santos, and Mama Ngina Kenyatta, the widow of Kenya’s first president.
In all, 10 African countries are represented on the billionaire list. Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt lead the pack with 20, nine and eight, respectively.
Following are the 10 richest people in Africa, according to Ventures.
10. Christoffel Wiese
Net worth: $3.4 billion
Country Of Citizenship: South Africa
Wiese is the chairman of Shoprite, Africa’s biggest discount retailer (not to be confused with the ShopRite grocery chain in the Northeastern U.S.), and its largest individual shareholder, with a 15% stake in the $7 billion company. He also owns significant stakes in other Johannesburg Stock Exchange-listed companies, including Invicta Holdings, PSG Holdings, Tradehold and Brait, a private equity firm. Other assets include a private game reserve in the Kalahari and Lourensford Wine Estate.
9. Nathan Kirsh
Net worth: $3.6 billion
Industry: Real Estate, Distribution
Country of citizenship: Swaziland
The bulk of Kirsh’s fortune is held in various property and distribution companies. His investment firm, Kirsh Holding Group, has a 50% stake in Swazi Plaza Properties, which owns the largest shopping mall in Swaziland. He also holds a 29% stake in Minerva, a London-based property developer, and a 63% stake in Jetro Holdings, which operates Jetro Cash and Carry stores and Restaurant Depots in the New York City area. Kirsh is also the largest individual shareholder in Magal Security Systems, a developer and supplier of control systems and intruder detection systems.
8. Gilbert Chagoury & Family
Net worth: $4.2 billion
Country of Citizenship: Nigeria
Born to immigrant Lebanese parents, Chagoury is a co-founder of the Chagoury Group, a multifaceted Nigerian conglomerate with interests in manufacturing, construction, real estate, hospitality and health care. Today, the Chagoury Group owns five flour-milling companies in Nigeria and Benin, as well as a glass bottle manufacturing plant and a plastic bottle manufacturing operation. Other assets include two five-star hotels in Lagos and Port Harcourt, and a high-end real estate development company.
Chagoury’s career has been marked by controversy. In 2001, in a British court, he admitted to helping the family of deceased Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha transfer $300 million into foreign accounts. He returned the money and was indemnified of charges.
7. Nassef Sawiris
Net worth: $5.2 billion
Country of citizenship: Egypt
Sawiris is the youngest of the three sons of Egyptian billionaire Onsi Sawiris, founder of the Orascom conglomerate. Nassef Sawiris heads Orascom Construction Industries, one of the largest companies in North Africa. In January, he announced that OCI was exchanging all the company’s global depositary receipts for newly issued shares of OCI NV on the NYSE Euronext in Amsterdam or in exchange for cash. A consortium of investors, including Bill Gates, provided the $1 billion in fresh capital required to pay off investors. The overwhelming majority of shareholders accepted the buyout offer, which subsequently led to the company’s delisting on the EGX. Nassef also serves as a director at Lafarge, the French cement giant, and the Dubai International Financial Exchange.
6. Johann Rupert
Net worth: $6.1 billion
Industry: Luxury goods and retail
Country of citizenship: South Africa