Nov 21 2008

Comparing the richest of Africa and Germany

Published by at 10:41 pm under Companies,Top Stories

I first published a list of Africa’s 10 richest people on my old blog on 11/7/2008. The recent publication of a list of Germany’s 300 richest (in MANAGER Magazin) made me think of this top 10 list for Africa again. So, I decided to republish it on my new blog – with a few comparisons between Africa’s richest and Germany’s richest.

First, the article as it was published on my old blog…

There are three South Africans on the list of Africa’s Ten Richest People – a list compiled by Emilia (in Stockholm) with the help of Forbes magazine, and published on her blog called Africa with Style. 

Counting from number ten to number one…

10. Patrice Motsepe (South Africa) 

African Rank No.10 – World Rank No.503 – Wealth $2.4 billion 

Fourteen years ago Apartheid died and now Africa’s largest economy, South Africa, has finally produced its first black billionaire – Patrice Motsepe. The Pretoria-raised lawyer was born into a relatively well-off black family, his father ABC Motsepe was one of the wealthiest black businessmen in the country. Motsepe became a mining lawyer and this paved his way into the industry that was to make his fortune. Today his company African Rainbow Mineral is one of the largest mining concerns in South Africa. Motsepe is also the owner of one of South Africa’s most successful football clubs Mamelodi Sundowns FC.

9. Mo Ibrahim (Sudan)

Africa rank No.9 – World Rank No. 462 – Wealth $2.5 billion

Founder of Mobile Telecommunications giant CelTel, which operated Mobile Phone services across Africa. He sold the firm in 2005 to Kuwaiti Investors.

8. Samih Sawiris (Egypt)

African Rank No.8 – World Rank No.396 – Wealth $2.9 billion

Samih Sawiris is the first of four Sawiris family members we find on this list. It has been a good year for Samih as his interests in tourism and leisure have seen his wealth rise from $1.6 billion to $2.9 billion. Probably his most significant investment over the year was $500 million in a luxury alpine resort in Andermatt, Switzerland. This was his first venture outside the Middle East. The resort will comprise a 5-star hotel, apartment and villa and an ice rink, all spread over 37 acres.

7. Aliko Dangote (Nigeria) 

African Rank No.7 – World Rank No.334 – Wealth $3.3 billion

Another débutante on the list and the first from Africa’s most populous nation. While the average man on the street in Nigeria would insist the country has produced many billionaires – mostly former heads of state and their cronies – Dangote represents a break from this tradition as a man who has created his wealth in a comparatively transparent manner. His interests in sugar, cement and food have propelled him to the top of the pile in Nigeria. His close relationship with former Nigerian President Obasanjo, some argue, has fuelled his wealth and Obasanjo’s exit from power last year saw Dangote’s influence wane somewhat.

6. Johann Rupert & family (South Africa) 

African Rank No.6 – World Rank No.284 – Wealth $3.8 billion

Johann Rupert and family have seen their total wealth slip by about $500 million and have dropped three places down the list of Africa’s richest on the back of challenging global economic conditions and a downturn in the luxury goods sector where his Richemont group is a major player. The tough economic conditions could not dampen rumours of Rupert looking to pay millions to purchase the English football team Blackburn Rovers, a deal Rupert has categorically denied.

5. Nicky Oppenheimer & family (South Africa) 

African Rank No.5 – World Rank No.173 – Wealth $5.7 billion

The Oppenheimer fortune is facing challenging times as investment pours into Russian mineral resources fuelling competition, resource hungry representatives of China and India scour Africa looking to secure their supply lines and back home the Black Empowerment policy has meant changes in Anglo American Corporation the mining giant founded by the Oppenheimer family. Despite these challenges, the family fortune has grown, but not enough to hold the position reached on last year’s list, as they drop three places to No 5.

4. Mohammed Al Amoudi (Ethiopia) 

African Rank No.4 – World Rank No.97 – Wealth $9.0 billion

Last year’s list omitted Mohammed Al Amoudi but this year the Ethiopian-born billionaire takes his rightful place. Al Amoudi migrated to Saudi Arabia from Ethiopia in 1965 and made his fortune in property before diversifying into petroleum. Al-Amoudi was one the biggest sponsors of celebrations earlier this year to mark the the start of the millennium in Ethiopia. The centrepiece of his sponsorship was the construction of the multimillion dollar Millennium Central Hall in Addis Ababa.

3. Onsi Sawiris (Egypt)

African Rank No.3 – World Rank No.96 – Wealth $9.1 billion

The list has already seen the first of the Sawiris family and the top three positions are all occupied by family members, the Sawiris father and his other two sons. Onsi Sawiris, despite being in retirement and having divested most of the Orascom Empire he built to his three sons, has seen his wealth almost double from $5 billion in 2007 to $9.2 billion today. The combined Sawiris fortune of $34.7 billion would see the family at No.7 amongst the world’s richest.

2. Nassef Sawiris (Egypt) 

African Rank No.2 – World Rank No.68 – Wealth $11.0 billion

Of all those who made this list Nassef Sawiris has had the most spectacular rise in his wealth, last year his wealth was estimated at $3.9 billion, but he started this year with three times that fortune at $11 billion. Nassef Sawiris runs the construction arm of the Orascom empire and soaring oil prices have ensured his target market of the Middle East is awash with development funds. Orascom Construction signed some big deals last year including building a $1.8 billion fertiliser plant in Algeria, a $110 million Solar Plant in Egypt and part of a consortium building Cairo’s new metro.

1. Naguib Sawiris (Egypt) 

African Rank No.1 – World Rank No.60 – Wealth $12.7 billion

In a gloomy world economy the growth of telecommunications, the internet and the media have been one of the few bright spots. In the emerging market it has been no different and Naguib Sawiris has benefited tremendously from this. In particular the mobile telephony part of his empire has shown strong growth although not without controversy as investments in North Korea and investigations into the purchase of an Italian Teleco.

That’s the list.

Now for a few comparisons with the list of Germany’s 300 richest, published recently in MANAGER Magazin.

With his $12.7 billion, Naguib Sawiris (Africa’s number one) would have been Germany’s fifth richest man and with his $2.4 billion, Patrice Motsepe (Africa’s 10th richest and SA’s 3rd richest) would have been Germany’s 64th richest man.

Interesting, is Germany’s depth. In 101th position on the German list, Dieter von Holtzbrinck (member of the family who owns the media group Georg von Holtzbrinck with which SA’s Naspers is narrowly co-operating) is not much poorer than Motsepe. Well, I’m stretching the truth here somewhat. Poor Dieter only has $1.25 billion, which is exactly half the riches of our own Patrice.  

To further give you an idea of the depth of riches in Germany – number 300 on the list of Germany’s richest still has almost half as much as Poor Dieter. 

And where would the Rupert family have fitted in, if they were German? They would have been in 40th position. Take some time to get your head around that one: There are 39 men, women and/or families in Germany with more money than the Rupert family (SA’s second richest family after the Oppenheimers).  

Now you also understand why I called my blog TheBigPond.  


* Both lists were compiled using market prices of shareholdings and other assets and both lists were compiled in the months shortly before “the big October meltdown” – so they are roughly comparable.

* You might say I should count the wealth of the 4 Sawiris on the African list together and then compare it with the wealth of German families. But, the German list also keeps family members separate. For instance, the richest and second richest in Germany is listed as Karl Albrecht ($21.9 billion) and his younger brother Theodor Albrecht ($21.3 billion). But, just for the fun of it: The wealth of the Albrecht’s thrown together is still larger than that of the 4 Sawiris brothers thrown together.

* Finally, let’s not forget the riches countless African politicians have collected over the decades and stashed away in secret bank accounts in Switzerland, Singapore and elsewhere. If we knew more about these accounts, the list of Africa’s 10 richest would, no doubt, have looked completely different.

One response so far

One Response to “Comparing the richest of Africa and Germany”

  1. adminon 02 Dec 2008 at 6:32 pm

    The Times published its annual “Rich List” (actually two lists – one of SA’s richest and the other of SA’s biggest earners) a few days ago. For the sake of perspective and “the full picture” and also to have this in my data bank, here is the link to that story.


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