Nigeria’s Aliko Dangote is Africa’s richest man; he has maintained that title for eleven consecutive years. He also holds the record as the richest black man on earth. Interestingly, there is only a handful of black billionaires worldwide.
At the last count (February 4, 2022), only 15 black billionaires exist – out of more than 2,755 billionaires worldwide. Five are from Africa, and eight are African-Americans.
The Nigerian trio of Dangote, Abdulsamad Rabiu and Mike Adenuga are all in the top six black billionaires with a combined net worth of about $23 billion. They made a large portion of their wealth from the Nigerian market.
The other two Africans on the list are from Zimbabwe and South Africa.
Since 2011, black billionaires have made up less than one per cent of the Forbes annual rich list. And the combined wealth of the black billionaires pales compared to other major races.
Experts say this racial wealth gap at the highest level of the food chain indicates the economic disadvantages among the black population worldwide, including access to resources, good jobs, and quality education.
Contrary to the widely held notion, most super-wealthy people were not born into stupendous affluence; they are self-made.
ALSO READ: Why is Aliko Dangote so Successful?
In a 2019 billionaire census report by market research firm Market X, 55.8 per cent of the world’s billionaires worked their way up the ladder.
This connotes that the lack of support for the black race could have played a role in the widening wealth gap. And in America, the argument is that this reality undermines the concept of the American dream.
Here is a quick list of the black billionaires and why they are so rich.
Dangote tops the list, and he has done so since 2011. He is also the 134th richest person in the world.
According to Forbes, his total net worth is $14 billion, and the majority of his wealth comes from his ownership of 88 per cent of publicly-traded Dangote Cement.
He also owns many shares in other publicly-traded manufacturing companies.
Meanwhile, Dangote could move further up the billionaire ladder in the coming years as he is expected to complete the multi-million billion-dollar Dangote refinery sited in Lagos.
The facility has a capacity of 650 000bopd and is expected to help ease the energy challenge in Nigeria.
Also, Dangote has recently commissioned the Dangote Fertilizer plant. The 3 million metric tonne fertilizer plant is expected to boost growth in the agric sector.
Rabiu is the founder and Chairman of BUA Group. He first popped up on the billionaires’ list in 2013, but he fell out two years later after the Naira devaluation reduced his net worth to less than $1billion.
As a result of his massive investment in cement, Rabiu rejoined the black billionaires club in 2010 with an estimated wealth of $1.8 billion. His fortune has soared ever since.
In the just-published 2022 Forbes billionaire ranking, Rabiu is the fifth richest African on the list and the second richest person in Nigeria.
He displaced Mike Adenuga, who has been the number two richest person in Nigeria for several years. His investment in BUA Cement, the second-largest cement company in Nigeria, is just one of several.
BUA Group is a conglomerate with interest in sugar refining, real estate, infrastructure, port concessions, oil and gas and shipping.
Adenuga, Globacom founder and Chairman, is the sixth richest in Africa and third in Nigeria, with a net worth of $6.7 billion. He is a self-made billionaire who, at one point, worked as a driver in the US to survive.
According to Forbes, he made his first million at only 26, selling lace and distributing soft drinks in Nigeria.
In 1990, he secured a crude oil drilling license. His company, Consolidated Oil, was the first indigenous outfit to strike oil in shallow Waters of Ondo State.
In 2003, Mike Adenuga set up Globacom, the first indigenous GSM company. Glo has a presence in several African markets, including Benin, Ghana and Cote d Ivoire, and it is now the third-largest telecoms operator on the continent.
Smith made the bulk of his wealth from the private equity firm Vista Equity Partners which he founded in 2000. The company deals exclusively in investing in software companies.
According to Forbes, Vista is one of the best performing private equity forms posting an annual return of 22 per cent since inception.
Vista is said to have over $50 billion in assets. Smith, the first African-American to sign the giving pledge, wowed the 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College when he committed to paying off the student debt accrued.
Worth about $5.8 billion, Steward made his wealth as co-founder and Chairman of World Wide Technology – an $11.2 billion IT provider whose clientele includes some of the top companies in America and the US government.
As of 2021, World Wide Technology had annual revenue of $13 billion and employed 7000 people.
Steward is one of the self-made black billionaires who overcame the adversities of his early life to climb to the top of the economic ladder.
He started World Wide Technology in 1990 with his meagre savings and only seven employees.
Motsepe is a South African mining mogul who is on record as Africa’s first Forbes billionaire. His wealth is traceable to buying a low-producing gold mine that later became profitable.
He became a billionaire in 2008. In 2016 he launched a private equity firm called African Rainbow Capital with a major focus on investing in Africa.
Strive is the founder of Econet Wireless, one of Africa’s leading telecoms companies.
He trained as an engineer in Scotland and later returned to Zimbabwe, his home country, where he set up an engineering firm.
In 1994, as the telecoms landscape in Africa was starting to grow, he saw an opportunity and sought a license to set up Econet. His quest was turned down by the government of the day, then led by Robert Mugabe.
He took the government to court and won after five years. Econet is now one of the largest operators in Africa.
Aside from his investment in Econet, he also has a real estate company with assets in several countries.
Oprah is one of the notable black billionaires and the richest black woman in the world, with a net worth of $2.6 billion.
She’s an African-American talk show host and is regarded as one of the most-listened-to women in the world. Oprah has a major interest in media and entertainment companies.
She is said to own shares in Weight Watchers and has a partnership with Apple. She has donated more than $500 000 to charity in her career, and she is a major supporter of girls’ education.
Michael traces his ancestry to Jamaica. He made his huge fortune as an investor in National Commercial Bank Jamaica, AIC Limited etc.
Lee acquired AIC in 1987. At the time, its value was less than $1million. The firm was hit hard by the 2008 recession, and he was forced to sell to Canadian Financial Service Group, Manulife, in 2009 for an undisclosed fee.
He still holds 60 per cent of the National Commerce Bank, Jamaica. He is now worth $1.9billion.
West is the richest entertainer in the world, according to Forbes. His fortune stands at $1.8 billion. He makes the bulk of his wealth from selling sneakers – Yeezy.
Rihana made her debut on the Forbes billionaire list last in 2021 with a $1.7 billion net worth.
The majority of her money comes from her fast-growing business empire -Fenty. She owns 50 per cent of Fenty Beauty; the other half is owned by luxury goods conglomerate LVMH.
Fenty was launched in 2017 and is now one of the most well-known beauty companies in the world.
Michael Jordan needs no introduction because his name sells itself. He is regarded as the greatest basketballer ever, and he is now rated as the wealthiest sportsman with an estimated wealth of $1.7 billion.
Despite retiring from active basketball long ago, he still makes money from endorsements. But the bulk of his wealth comes from his lucrative partnership with Nike.
He has several other investments, including Charlotte Hornet, DraftKing, Dapper Lab, AXiomatic, Sportradar etc.
Jay Z is arguably the most influential hip-hop artist in the world. He is married to music star Beyonce, and they are regarded as the most powerful couple in Hollywood.
JayZ has been able to translate his success on stage into thriving businesses, giving him a place on the Forbes rich list.
He has an estimated wealth of $1.3 billion. Jay Z first became a billionaire in 2019, becoming hip-hop’s first proven and viable billionaire.
Karp is the co-founder and CEO of the software firm Palantir Technologies. He makes the list with an estimated net worth of $1.3 billion
Perry was one of the most popular entertainers in Hollywood. He established the first and only black-owned movie studio in America, Tyler Perry Studios, located in the heart of Atlanta.