This Day (Lagos)

Nigeria: Dangote Retains Position As Africa's Richest Man

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Aliko Dangote

For the second year running, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, retained his position as Africa's richest man on the Forbes List for 2012 of the 40 richest men on the continent.

According to the US-based magazine, Dangote topped the list for the second year running, with a net worth of $12 billion, up from $10.1 billion in November 2011. Most of his net worth lies in publicly traded Dangote Cement, which operates in 14 African countries.

Nicky Oppenheimer of South Africa comes in once again as the second richest, with a $6.4 billion fortune-down $100 million from a year ago. Oppenheimer decided in late 2011 to sell his family's 40 per cent stake in diamond producer DeBeers to mining company Anglo American for $5.1 billion. The deal got final regulatory approval in July 2012, marking the end of 85 years of Oppenheimer family control of DeBeers.

Notable newcomers include the list's first two women: Folorunsho Alakija of Nigeria, who got on due to her stake in the prolific Agbami oil field; and Isabel dos Santos of Angola, an entrepreneur, investor and daughter of that country's president.

Also, South Africa's Desmond Sacco debuts as a billionaire thanks to his shares in mining concern Assore, which he chairs. Another South African newcomer, Koos Bekker, who since 1997 has turned media group Naspers into a true multinational firm, taking neither a salary nor a bonus along the way. His $450 million net worth lies mostly in vested Naspers options.

South Africa, the continent's economic giant, is home to 12 of Africa's 40 richest, followed by Nigeria, with 11. Egypt comes next, with eight members on the Forbes list, and Morocco with five.

It is perhaps no surprise that the overwhelming majority of Africa's 40 richest come from the countries with the largest stock exchanges.

The wealthiest hail from eight countries - up from six last year. The two new countries represented are Angola (Isabel dos Santos) and Tanzania (Said Salim Bakhresa).

Cairo is home to more of Africa's 40 richest than any other city - with eight list members. Thirty-two fortunes are self-made; 19 people have net worth higher than a year ago, while 10 have fortunes that dropped in value.

The average age is 63 - up from an average of 61 last year. The minimum net worth required to make the list of richest Africans was $400 million, up from $250 million in 2011.

Africa is perhaps best known for its abundant natural resources, but its 40 richest operate in an array of industries, bolstered by a growing consumer sector. Just four of the 40 draw their net worth from oil. Ten, by contrast, have diversified fortunes, either through ownership of a conglomerate (like Egypt's Mansours) or ownership of assets in diverse realms, like Kenya's Naushad Merali. Six built their wealth in the financial industry.

Meanwhile, Carlos Slim, the Mexican telecoms billionaire, retained his position on the Forbes List as the world's wealthiest man with a net worth of $69 billion.

He is followed by Microsoft's founder, Bill Gates ($61 billion), Warren Buffet ($44 billion), Bernard Arnault ($41 billion), and Amancio Ortega ($37.5 billion).

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