ZIMBABWEAN telecoms, media and financial services tycoon, Strive Masiyiwa, is now worth US$1.7 billion and ranked 14th on Forbes' list of African billionaires.
According to the US-based business magazine, Masiyiwa becomes Zimbabwe's first billionaire and the country's only representative on its list of Africa's super rich.
Masiyiwa, a globally respected business leader and philanthropist, is executive chairman of the Econet Group which was founded in 1993 with the launch of mobile phone company Econet Wireless Zimbabwe after a five-year legal battle against the Harare government.
His telecoms venture has since expanded internationally with operations now spanning Africa as well as in Europe, South America, North America and the East Asia Pacific Rim.
Listed on the local stock market, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe is one of the country's biggest corporations with interests now extending beyond telecoms to financial services, insurance, e-commerce, renewable energy, education, Coca-Cola bottling, hospitality and payment gateway solutions.
Another unit of the Econet Group, Liquid Telecom Group, successfully raised $700 million in a bond and term loan financing package from international financiers.
In addition, Masiyiwa has since moved into media with pay television firm Kwese TV, which is already operating in several African countries.
Masiyiwa serves on a number of international boards, including Unilever, Rockefeller Foundation, the Council on Foreign Relations' Global Advisory Board, the Africa Progress Panel and the UN Secretary General's Advisory Board for Sustainable Energy.
Along with his wife Tsitsi, the telecoms tycoon also runs the Higher Life Foundation which pays the school fees of over 40,000 students across the Primary, High school and Tertiary education levels.
Meanwhile, at the top of Forbes list of Africa's super rich is Nigerian Aliko Dangote who is worth $12.2 billion dollars followed by South Africa's Nicky Oppenheimer who is said to be worth US$7.7 billion.
Only two women make the 23-name list of Africa's billionaires with Angola's Isabel Dos Santos in ninth place with a net-worth of $2.7 billion.
Nigerian oil entrepreneur is the other female entrant on the list Folorunsho Alakija at US$1.6 billion.- allafrica.com