Africa’s Billionaires Unveiled By Forbes Magazine: Aliko Dangote, Mike Adenuga, Jim Ovia, Folorunsho Alakija, Theophilus Danjuma, Oba Otudeko And Other Nigerians Top The List


As Forbes Magazine annually draws attention to the entrepreneurial spirit of the members of the business community throughout the world, this year, the numbers of Nigerians who made the list rose from 8 in 2011 to 11 in the recent Forbes List of 40 African Richest Business People with Nigeria’s Aliko Dangote topping the list.

Observation shows that in Nigeria, apart from Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Jim Ovia, Abdulsamad Rabiu, Hakeem Belo-Osagie, and to a little extent, Oba Otudeko who made their money exclusively through investments in manufacturing, banking and telecommunications, others, including new members of the stupendously rich Nigerians largely grew their wealth through investments in oil and gas in the period under review.

This year’s Forbes list of the 40 Richest People in Africa shows that the combined wealth of the 40 richest is $64.9 billion. Forbes’ inaugural list of the 40 Richest People in Africa is described as a testament to the growing global importance of the continent as it tracks the fortunes being created everywhere from South Africa clear north to Morocco and Egypt in a diverse array of industries, by companies that cater to local tastes or worldwide needs.

See the 11 richest Nigerians on the Forbes Africa billionaires list.

Aliko Dangote

Similar to last year when he led the park with a networth of investment put at $10.1 billion, Aliko Dangote, who presided over multi-billion naira Dangote Group, maintained his eminent position on the list of Africa’s richest with an improved investment of $12 billion which dropped from a networth of $15 billion during the course of the year.

Investment analysts attributed the rising fortune of the business mogul to a number of daring investment decisions taken in the course of the year.

His flagship company, Dangote Cement, is Africa’s largest cement manufacturer, with operations in 14 African countries. In September, Dangote revealed plans to open cement plants in Myanmar and Iraq. In October, he sold his controlling stake in Dangote Flour Mills to South African consumer goods firm Tiger Brands for $190 million.

Dangote, who started with trading in commodities with loan from members of his family more than three decades ago, has built a formidable business empire under the name Dangote Group, which in addition to cement owns sugar refineries, flour milling and salt processing facilities.

Mike Adenuga

He ranked 5th on Forbes list of Africa’s richest people but maintained his second position in Nigeria. Last year, his investment was valued at $4,300 billion; however, he was able to up the ante this year with a networth of $4,600 billion.

This rise in fortune has been linked with the rise in oil production as one of his companies, Conoil Producing, recorded an increase in production capacity.

Conoil was founded as Shell Company of Nigeria in 1927 and privatized in 2000. The company is one of Nigeria’s largest independent oil companies, with a production capacity of 100,000 barrels per day. His net worth has increased by $300 million over the past year on the strength of oil production.

Adenuga amounted some fortune in the 1970s at age 26 by distributing lace and other materials, but he hit it big when the military regime of former President Ibrahim Babangida gave him a contract to build Army barracks.

He launched the Globacom mobile phone network in 2006. It has some 30 million customers in Nigeria, also operates in the Republic of Benin and recently acquired licenses to start business in Ghana and Ivory Coast. Nigeria’s second richest man made a $450 million bid to purchase NITEL, the defunct government-owned telecom company, in July 2011; the purchase has not been completed.

Jim Ovia
He owns one of the frontline banks in Nigeria, Zenith Bank Group. Although his investment rose from $775 million in 2011 to $825 million this year, He slid from the 17th position last year to clinch 19th in the latest ranking but that did not affect his position as the third richest Nigerian according to Forbes list for 2012. His rising investment profile was attributed to a corresponding sterling performance of Zenith Bank where he remains the largest individual shareholder.

Zenith Bank, in the course of the year has grown into West Africa’s second largest financial services provider by market capitalisation and asset base. He was required to step down as chief executive in 2009 after a 20-year stint following a Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) directive that limits the tenure of bank chiefs to 10 years. His stake in the bank is worth about $300 million. His other investments include real estate and Telecommunication. He founded Visafone, a telecom outfit in 2007.

Abdusamad Rabiu

Abdusamad Rabiu moved up the ladder from 29th position last year to the 21st in the year under review.

His upward movement up the ladder was informed by the corresponding rise in revenue of the BUA Group which he heads. His networth jumped from $400 million recorded in 2011 to $675 million this year.

The BUA Group is a conglomerate with $1.9 billion in revenues and interests in sugar refining, vegetable oil processing and flour mills. The group also operates the BUA Cement, Nigeria’s first floating cement terminal.

Abdulsamad Rabiu, who came fourth in ranking among Nigerian richest people, learned the ropes from his father, Khalifa Isiyaku Rabiu, one of the nation’s most successful businessmen in the 1970s. He followed in his father’s footsteps, importing basic commodities like rice, sugar, and cement in the 1980s.

Folorunsho Alakija

Alakija emerged as Nigeria’s richest woman although she ranked 24th on the list of Africa’s richest people. With a networth of $600 million, the bulk of her fortune was drawn from oil. Alakija, who made the list for the first time, started her career in the mid 1970s as a secretary at the now-defunct International Merchant Bank of Nigeria.

In the 1980s, after studying fashion design in England, she founded Supreme Stitches, a Nigerian fashion label. Her biggest break came in oil when her company Famfa Oil was awarded an oil prospecting license in 1993. The company went on to become OML 127, one of the nation’s most prolific oil blocks. Famfa Oil owned a 60% stake in the block until 2000 when the Federal Government acquired a 50% interest in the block without duly compensating Alakija or her company. The case was taken to court to challenge the acquisition and in May this year, the Supreme Court reinstated the 50% stake to Famfa Oil. Chevron owns the remaining 40%.

Theophilus Danjuma

Theophilus Danjuma’s networth of $6oo million did not change from what was posted in 2011; he however dropped some few steps backward to 25th position from the 21st he occupied last year.

He was awarded an oil block in the 1990s. In 2006, he sold a 45% stake to Chinese Oil Company CNOOC for $1.75 billion. His South Atlantic Petroleum Exploration company now owns a 5% stake in the block, OML 130. The company is also the sole operator of a field offshore the Republic of Benin.

Oba Otudeko
He occupies the 26th position on Forbes list. Oba Otudeko, a Nigerian businessman who recorded a modest rise in fortune although the rise did not reflect in his position on the Forbes list for the current year as he slid from 24th position last year to 26th this year. His investments put at $550 million in 2011 rose marginally to $575 million this year.

This rise has been attributed to the relative boom in oil and gas. He founded Honeywell Group in early 1980s, now the $2.5 billion Nigerian conglomerate has interests in oil & gas, flour milling, real estate and marine transportation. He also owns a 14% stake in mobile phone giant Bharti Airtel’s Nigerian operations, and a stake in Radisson Blu, a sprawling oceanfront hotel in Lagos, Nigeria.

Mohammed Ndimi

His networth rose tremendously from $330 million in 2011 to the threshold of $550 million as value of his oil block climbed. This was linked with its juicy oil deals in the period under review. He is the founder and chairman of Oriental Energy Resources, a privately held Nigerian oil exploration and production company. Oriental has three projects in the offshore oil and gas industry. It shares ownership of the projects with U.K.-listed oil exploration company Afren Plc. Combined production of the three projects is 35,000 barrels per day.
Mohammed Ndimi emerged the number 27 on the Forbes list of African richest persons.

OB Lulu-Briggs

Another newcomer on the list after Folorunsho Alakija, OB Lulu-Briggs, the founder and chairman of Moni Pulo Limited, an oil exploration and Production Company occupied the 31st position on the Forbes list. Moni Pulo, whose investment was put at $500 million, was awarded its first oil block in 1992 when former president Ibrahim Babangida encouraged indigenous participation in the upstream sector of the oil and gas industry. The company currently has oil blocks in Ondo, Abia and Akwa-Ibom states.

Sani Bello

Sani Bello, who built a fortune in oil and telecom, is a former Nigerian military governor from Kano State and a one-time ambassador to Zimbabwe. He co-founded AMNI Petroleum, an oil exploration company with a 50% interest in the Okoro and Setu oil fields, located in shallow water offshore Nigeria. AMNI shares ownership of the Okoro field with London-listed exploration firm Afren. His networth is put at $425 millio. Bello also owns a minority stake in mobile telecom firm MTN Nigeria (a unit of South Africa-based MTN Group), where he is vice-chairman of the board.

He ranked 37th richest African on the Forbes list.


Hakeem Belo-Osagie

Named the 40th richest African, he has a networth of $400 million, a little below the $450 million that placed him on the 28th position last year.

A Harvard-trained petroleum economist, He chairs telecom provider Etisalat where he controls a 12% stake through his holding company, Premium Telecommunications Holdings.

In the 1980s Belo-Osagie worked for the government in various roles including an assistant to the presidential adviser on petroleum and energy.

In 1986 he set up petroleum consultancy CTIC and bought 51% of United Bank of Africa from the Nigerian government in 1998 which he later sold for a reported $120 million in 2004.

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