There are 11 billionaires from the Sadc region on this year’s Forbes list of 25 billionaires on the African continent.
The list, released in March, showed that Mohammed Dewji of Tanzania is still the youngest billionaire in Africa with a fortune Forbes estimates at US$1.09 billion.
The Forbes list is dominated by billionaires from West African and North African countries of Nigeria, Morocco, Egypt and Algeria.
Angolan investor Isabel dos Santos, who is the daughter of Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, and oil tycoon Folorunsho Alakija of Nigeria, still remain the only two female billionaires on the continent.
Nigerian Aliko Dangote, with a net worth of US$12.2 billion is still the richest man in Africa.
His source of wealth is cement, flour, sugar and salt.
The list of 11 billionaires from the Sadc region is headed by Nicky Oppenheimer from South Africa with a net worth US$7 billion.
Oppenheimer, whose source of wealth is diamonds, is number two on the African list of billionaires. Oppenheimer is chairman of De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited. He also serves as a director of De Beers Holdings Limited and De Beers Group Limited. He previously served as deputy chairman of Anglo American Corporation. According to Forbes, Oppenheimer is the richest South African.
He is followed by another South Africa, Johann Rupert, with a net worth of US$6.3 billion. Rupert’s source of wealth is luxury goods. Rupert is chairman of Swiss luxury goods firm Compagnie Financiere Richemont. Best known for the brands Cartier and Montblanc, the company was formed in 1998 by spinning off international assets owned by Rembrandt Group Limited (now Remgro Limited), a South African company his father Anton founded in the 1940s as a tobacco manufacturer.
Forbes says Rupert owns a seven percent stake in diversified investment firm Remgro, which he chairs, as well as 25 percent of Reinet, an investment holding company based in Luxemburg that has a stake in British American Tobacco.
“He also owns part of the Saracens English rugby team and Anthonij Rupert Wines, named after his deceased brother. In recent years, Rupert has been a vocal opponent of plans to allow fracking in the Karoo, a region of South Africa where he owns land. Rupert says his biggest regret was not buying half of Gucci when he had the opportunity to do so for just US$175 million, adding that his advice to entrepreneurs is to ‘follow your gut’,” says Forbes.
Also from Southern Africa are Christoffel Wiese (South African), with a net worth of $5.9 billion in the retail sector and Nathan Kirsch from Swaziland with a net worth of $3.9 billion in the retail sector.
Wiese owns 15 percent of Shoprite and 17 percent of global retail holding firm Steinhoff, which owns Pep. According to Forbes, he made “an end run on big urban-market competitors by targeting rural and low-income areas with rock-bottom prices and everyday items. His central distribution system also made more efficient work of stocking shelves. Wiese today presides over 11 000 stores across 30 countries.”
Kirsh is a business magnate born in Potchefstroom, South Africa, with a property empire spanning Australia, Swaziland, and the United Kingdom. He has Swazi citizenship, and according to Forbes he is the wealthiest person in Swaziland. He also has residency status in the UK and the US.
According to Forbes, Kirsh made his first fortune in his native Swaziland, founding a corn milling business in the country in 1958. He expanded into wholesale food distribution in apartheid South Africa, and then into supermarkets and commercial property development. South African insurance company Sanlam bought 49 percent of Kirsh’s company, and he entered into agreements to build a slew of what turned out to be financially unviable shopping malls — backed by company assets.
“Suddenly, Kirsh was broke. The bulk of his current fortune comes from Jetro Holdings, which operates Jetro Cash and Carry stores and Restaurant Depots in the New York City area — supplying wholesale goods to bodegas, small stores and restaurants. Kirsh’s charitable endeavours are focused on Swaziland, where he has supplied more than 12 000 people with starter capital for small businesses,” says Forbes.
There is also Koos Bekker (net worth US$2.1 billion in the media and investments sector), Allan Gray, with a net worth of US$1.99 billion from the money management sector, Patrice Motsepe, (South African),with a net worth of US$1,8 billion in the mining sector, Jannie Mouton (South African, with a net worth $1 billion in the financial services), Mohammed Dewji, a Tanzanian worth US$1.4 billion in the diversified sector and Stephen Saad, another South African worth US$1.21 billion in pharmaceuticals complete the list of billionaires from the Sadc region.
Forbes says Koos Bekker is revered as an astute executive who transformed South African newspaper publisher Naspers into a digital media powerhouse, primarily due to his 2001 bet on Chinese Internet and media firm Tencent.
“During his tenure as CEO, which began in 1997, Bekker oversaw a rise in the market capitalisation of Naspers from about US$600 million to US$45 billion, while drawing no salary, bonus, or benefits. He was compensated via stock option grants that vested over time. Bekker, who retired as the CEO of Naspers in March 2014, returned as chairman in April 2015. Over the summer of 2015 he sold more than 70 percent of his Naspers shares. His Babylonstoren estate, which features architecture dating back to 1690, stretches across nearly 600 acres in South Africa’s Western Cape region and includes a farm, orchard, vineyard, a 14-room hotel and a restaurant,” says Forbes.
Gray, according to Forbes, founded his eponymous Cape Town-based investment management firm Allan Gray Limited in 1973. The company also has offices in Botswana, Namibia and Nigeria. It is the largest privately-owned asset manager in South Africa, overseeing US$35 billion in assets. Gray started the company after earning his MBA from Harvard and spending eight years at Fidelity Investments in the US. He founded another asset manager, Orbis Investment Management, in 1989 in Bermuda, now his primary residence. Orbis manages some US$30 billion.
Forbes says in 2005, Gray founded the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation with a personal gift of US$130 million. The foundation provides grants for secondary and tertiary education to emerging business leaders, also receives seven percent of the taxed profits of Allan Gray Limited. In December 2015, Gray announced that he would eventually donate the bulk of his wealth to charity. According to a letter to his shareholders, Gray has transferred control of Allan Gray Limited and Orbis to the Allan & Gill Gray Foundation where dividends will be used for charity, says Forbes.
Motsepe is a South African mining magnate. He is the founder and executive chairman of African Rainbow Minerals, which has interests in gold, ferrous metals, base metals, and platinum. According to Forbes, Motsepe launched a new private equity firm focused on investing in Africa in April 2016. Called African Rainbow Capital, it is a subsidiary of Motsepe’s Ubuntu-Botho Investments. Motsepe also has a stake in Sanlam, a listed financial services firm, and is the president and owner of the Mamelodi Sundowns Football Club.
“He became the first black partner at law firm Bowman Gilfillan in Johannesburg, and then started a contracting business doing mine scut work. In 1994, he bought low-producing gold mine shafts and turned them profitable,” says Forbes.
“South Africa’s Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) laws, which mandate that companies be at least 26 percent black-owned in order to get a government mining license, benefited Motsepe. In 2013, the mining magnate was the first African to sign Bill Gates’ and Warren Buffett’s Giving Pledge, in which he promised to give at least half his fortune to charity.”
Johannes “Jannie” Mouton is the founder and chairman of PSG Group. Forbes says Mouton is also known as “Buddha Buffett”. It says his PSG Group, a listed investment holding firm, has interests in financial services, banking, private equity, agriculture and education.
Mohammed Dewji is the CEO of METL, a Tanzanian conglomerate founded by his father in the 1970s. It is active in textile manufacturing, flour milling, beverages and edible oils in eastern, southern and central Africa. According to Forbes, Dewji is Tanzania’s only billionaire, operates in at least six African countries and has ambitions to expand to several more.
His net worth rose due to an increase in sales in 2015. Dewji retired from Tanzania’s parliament in early 2015 after completing his two terms. His Mo Dewji Foundation provides scholarships for poor Tanzanian children. He signed the Giving Pledge in 2016, promising to donate at least half his fortune to philanthropic causes.
According to Forbes, Stephen Saad founded South Africa’s largest pharmaceuticals maker, Aspen Pharmacare, in 1997. Traded on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, Aspen Pharmacare, which he runs as CEO, markets generic medicines in 150 countries.
“Saad became a millionaire at age 29 when he sold his share in drug business, Covan Zurich, for $3 million. In 2012, Saad became chairman of The Sharks, a Durban rugby team. He spends his free time at Exeter, his private game reserve at Sabi Sands, which is adjacent to Kruger National Park, the largest national park in South Africa. In October 2016, Saad won the Entrepreneur of the Year award at the All Africa Business Leaders Awards gala,” said Forbes.
This analysis was first published in The Southern Times