Forbes’ 2014 billionaires list has a record 1,645 people, including 29 Africans worth $1 billion or more, nine more than last year. Here are the first 10 richest known people, and in some cases, families, in Africa that you didn’t know were billionaires.
1. Aliko Dangote
Worth $25 billion, Aliko Dangote of Nigeria, has been Africa’s richest man for four years now. He was born on 10 April 1957 into a wealthy Muslim family. From the time he was young Dangote had an eye on business. He said, “I can remember when I was in primary school, I would go and buy cartons of sweets and I would start selling them just to make money. He made his fortune producing cement, milling flour and refining sugar and food beverages and is $9 billion richer than last year. As a result, Dangote was honoured in January 2009 as the leading provider of employment in the Nigerian construction industry.
2. Johann Rupert & Family
Forbes ranks the luxury good tycoon from South Africa as its number two richest man on the continent, worth $7.6 billion. Since joining the family business, he has diversified the Rembrandt empire from its base in tobacco and alcohol products into expanding foreign markets. He owns the Swiss-based luxury goods outfit Compagnie Financiere Richemont. Its top end brands Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels and Montblanc among others, are household luxury names.
3. Nicky Oppenheimer & Family
The descendants of South Africa’s original diamond barrens, the Oppenheimers, are worth $6.7 billion. A number that was buoyed when they sold their 40% stake in the family diamond business, De Beers, in July 2012, in a $5.1 billion all-cash deal to Anglo American. Although no longer majority shareholders in the diamond business, the Oppenheimer family still makes a profit through investments with private equity firm Tana Africa Capital. In 1968 Nicky married Orcillia “Strilli” Lasch, daughter of industrial tycoon Helli Lasch. They live mainly in Johannesburg on the Brenthurst Gardens estate. He and his wife are members of the St George’s Anglican Church, Parktown, Johannesburg. The Brenthurst Garden is affiliated to The Quiet Garden Trust, a Christian organisation providing places for prayer, silence and reflection. He also has a country estate in England, Waltham Place (with gardens open to the public and an associated organic Farm), at White Waltham in Berkshire.
4. Nassef Sawiris
Tied with the Oppenheimer family when it comes to net worth, with $6.7 billion to play with, is Nassef Sawiris. He is the CEO of Egypt’s most valuable publicly-traded company, Orascom Construction Industries, according to Forbes.
5. Mike Adenuga
The founder of Nigeria’s second largest mobile phone network, Globacom, is notoriously reclusive, hardly ever granting press interviews and always traveling with plenty of bodyguards. He is worth $4.6 billion with a portion of his wealth also derived from oil profits – he has the rights to some of Nigeria’s lucrative oil fields that his other company, Conoil Producing, mines. He made his first fortune at age 26 when he returned to Nigeria after studying in the U.S. He took over his mother’s sawmill business and distributed lace and Coca-Cola. He made some powerful friends within Nigeria’s military and relied on those relationships to corner lucrative state construction contracts. Nigeria’s former military president, Ibrahim Babangida, awarded him an oil prospecting license. Adenuga used that to build Conoil Producing and became the first Nigerian to strike oil in commercial quantities.
6. Isabel Dos Santos
Worth $3.8 billion, Isabel dos Santos of Angola is Africa’s richest woman and one of only two female billionaires on the continent — and the only woman to make Africa’s Top 10 wealthiest. The oldest daughter of Angola’s president Eduardo dos Santos, she owns large stakes in a number of blue-chip companies in Angola and Portugal including Angolan cell phone company Unitel. It is purported, however, that many of Isabel’s assets are actually held by her in trust for her father. Her next bid: opening Sonae hypermarkets in Angola with Portuguese billionaire Belmiro de Azevedo.
7. Issad Rebrab
Algeria’s richest man, Issad Rebrab, is worth $3.5 billion thanks in a large part to his stake in his family’s business conglomerate Cevital, which has interests in auto distribution, mining, agriculture and sugar refining among others and is Algeria’s largest family-owned business group, employing some 12,000 people including all five of Rebrab’s children. His success is unusual in a country with socialist policies hostile to entrepreneurs and he is Algeria’s first-ever billionaire. “Today we [entrepreneurs] are accepted, but not encouraged,” he said in a French TV interview. He is the son of militants who fought for Algeria’s independence from France.
8. Christoffel Wiese
Also clocking in at $3.2 billion, the South African retail mogul owns a chain of low-price supermarkets, Shoprite, located across multiple African countries. Christoffel Wiese also has assets in discount fashion brands, a five star hotel and a private equity firm.
9. Nathan Kirsh
Worth $3.1 billion, Nathan Kirsh is the only Swazi national on Forbes’ Top 10 list. He is the founder of Jetro Holdings, a cash-and-carry wholesaler for grocery stores, but made his first millions after founding a corn-milling business in Swaziland in 1958. He told FORBES that Jetro has a near-monopoly on the business of providing goods to small stores in the New York City area while other wholesalers don’t deem them worth the time. His charitable endeavors are focused on Swaziland, where he has supplied more than 10,000 people with starter capital for small businesses. He says 70% of the recipients are women and the program has a 70% success rate. He is also working to make Swazi high schools the first in Africa to guarantee graduates are computer-literate.
10. Mohamed Mansour
Mohamed Mansour of Egypt owns of the world’s largest GM dealership along with his two brothers, Yasseen and Youssef (also on the billionaires list, but slightly lower down), and is worth $3.1 billion. They own Mansour Group’s Caterpillar tractor and equipment sales in eight African countries and Russia. The company generated more than $6 billion in revenue last year, a 16% increase over 2012, with 60% coming from outside Egypt.
Look out for part two; number 11 to 20