Africa’s billionaires

Did you know, in October last year, Dangote visited Rwanda as part of a high level business delegation accompanying Nigerian president Goodluck Ebele Jonathan on a two-day official visit? Dangote’s delegation was later hosted to an investors’ breakfast hosted by the Rwanda Development Board (RDB).
Folorunsho Alakija
Folorunsho Alakija

Did you know, in October last year, Dangote visited Rwanda as part of a high level business delegation accompanying Nigerian president Goodluck Ebele Jonathan on a two-day official visit? Dangote’s delegation was later hosted to an investors’ breakfast hosted by the Rwanda Development Board (RDB).

Africa’s most moneyed man hails from the land of Oga; Nigeria. His name is Aliko Dangote. (Can we expect a Nollywood flick on his success story soon?) Dangote came at the top of the prestigious Forbes magazine’s 40 Richest Africans list released on Tuesday, with a net worth of $12 billion, indicating a significant improvement from the $10.1 billion he owned by November 2011. (Yea, it is the second time he is sweeping Forbes magazine’s Mr Moneybags accolade.

Forbes is an American business magazine well known for its lists of the richest Americans (the Forbes 400), highest-paid stars under 30, and its list of billionaires. The Forbes “40 Richest Africans” only tracks the wealth of those African citizens resident on the continent. Thus, other such African born moneybags as Mo Ibrahim (he of the Mo Ibrahim foundation) and the Egyptian mogul Mohamed Al-Fayed are excluded.

Dangote is a hard man, and hard men deal in hard businesses. Like cement. He has been described as the ‘golden child’ of Nigerian business circles. The Dangote consortium covers numerous sectors of the Nigerian economy. It supplies essential commodities like cement, sugar, salt, flour, rice, spaghetti and fabric, among others, at very competitive prices.

His flagship company, Dangote Cement, is Africa’s largest cement manufacturer, with operations in 14 African countries. In September 2011, Dangote revealed plans to open cement plants in Myanmar and Iraq. The following month, he sold his controlling stake in Dangote Flour Mills to South African consumer goods firm Tiger Brands.

Did you know, in October last year, Dangote visited Rwanda as part of a high level business delegation accompanying Nigerian president Goodluck Ebele Jonathan on a two-day official visit? Dangote’s delegation was later hosted to an investors’ breakfast hosted by the Rwanda Development Board (RDB).

It was a meeting in which the RDB showcased Rwanda’s investment opportunities to the Nigerian business fraternity and also served as an introduction to Rwanda for those, like Dangote, who were visiting the country for the first time.

As Africa’s biggest cement manufacturer, Dangote has cement plants in Zambia, Tanzania, Congo and Ethiopia, among others, and is building more cement terminals in such countries as Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast and Liberia.

Which brings us to the billion dollar question; Will Dangote put his money in Rwanda? Will he?  After all, isn’t his Dangote Group just the kind of African conglomerate Rwanda is happy and hungry to host?

Pundits argue that with the country’s heavy construction boom, “anything can happen.” We wait with bated breath.

Closer to home, in Uganda is Sudhir Ruparelia, ranked the richest person in East Africa by the same magazine, and the 18th richest Africa wide.  His net fortune stands at $900 million.

Want to know if there are any living legends out there? Just go down to Kampala, anywhere in that dusty city and mention the name “Sudhir.” The whole town knows him. Everybody that stays or works in Kampala knows this man. The boda boda (taxi motor) boy knows Sudhir. The waiter serving you at the bar knows him. Even the airtime and fruit vendor knows him. And why not? The man owns almost half of the Ugandan capital’s Business District. Sudhir lays claim to more than 300 prime residential and commercial properties in some of Kampala’s most upscale neighbourhoods. He is also said to own a slew of properties in Rwanda and Juba.

Sudhir was born in 1956 in Kabatoro, Kasese, a small town in western Uganda. His parents owned three successful retail businesses, where the future moneybags honed his business skills.

In a way, he is the landlord of Kampala.

According to the Uganda Land Alliance, Sudhir is the largest individual property owner in Uganda. And one thing this man enjoys in Uganda is goodwill – both from the political establishment and from the general public. He particularly has a fond relation with Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni. The president has previously gone on record that Sudhir’s real estate concerns make as much money as the entire country earns from tea and coffee exports combined (that’s about $400 million a year.)

A very modest man, he chooses to instead downplay his triumph. “Reports of my property holdings are grossly overrated” is the standard statement he will issue whenever someone “accuses” him of owning “half of Kampala.”

His Ruparelia group owns some of the best hotels in Uganda, including the Kabira Country Club, Speke Hotel, and the 5-star Speke Resort & Conference Centre in Munyoyo, a posh Kampala suburb. The resort sits on 70 acres and is worth an estimated $150 million. It was the venue for the Commonwealth Conference in November 2007. It is equipped with a marina, an equestrian centre, and the only Olympic-sized swimming pool in East Africa.

Sudhir also owns Crane Bank, Uganda’s second largest commercial bank, Crane Insurance Company, a radio station, and a floriculture business, among others.

 

Have Your SayLeave a comment