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Entrepreneurs - September 22, 2022

7 Tips to Becoming Ultra Rich from African Billionaires

You could say that most African billionaires have had some economic or educational advantage in helping them attain their status. However, their smart decisions and business choices, plus a few key characteristics, have led them to achieve tremendous success.

Currently, there are 18 African billionaires with major influence in diverse industries. These billionaires all share one thing in common – a healthy appetite for success. 

African billionaires like Aliko Dangote, Mo Ibrahim, Naseef Sawiris and Jim Ovia have become role models to many budding entrepreneurs, and there is so much to learn from them. Let’s take a look at 7 tips you can learn from these African billionaires.


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1. Follow your interest 

The outcome of providing a great deal of value is wealth. The money will come if you concentrate more on building your capacity to add value.

In 1980, Mo Ibrahim became interested in telecommunications and made the decision to specialise in mobile communications, which was unfashionable at the time.

He picked this vocation since it piqued his curiosity even though there wasn’t a guaranteed way to make a lot of money in the industry at the time.

“I found the work thrilling and absorbing. I certainly had no idea it was going to make me a lot of money“, he said. 

2. You need to be true to your goals

In your quest for achievement, obstacles and challenges are certain to arise.

However, do not use these difficulties as an excuse to explore every apparent possibility. Success comes from persistence.

Dangote is an example of a man who has remained true to his goals. Dangote might have submitted a competitive bid for a mobile licence when they were up for grabs in Nigeria.

But he adamantly declined because, in his own words, “that was not my game.” He shied away from offers of oil blocks.

He didn’t strive to get involved in every industry like a man trying to do everything. He maintained his composure and continued to play the same way.

3. No knowledge is a waste 

Do not take the modest possibilities of today for granted. You can never predict when your past experiences will come in handy.

Jim Ovia secured a night job as a computer operator in his senior year of college. He gained insight into the effective use of data processing technologies by an American bank because of this encounter.

Ovia utilised his MBA skills while serving during his NYSC by preparing feasibility reports for businesses and afterwards selling reconditioned autos. Later, he was hired by a bank to work as a financial analyst.

“All of these experiences”, he said, “prepared me for bigger things to come”.

4. Be unrelentingly tenacious in standing up for what you think is right

Even if others consider you to be a nobody, never allow yourself to become little in your own eyes.

More than most business owners, Strive Masiyiwa has encountered severe rivalry. In 1994, after the Zimbabwean government prevailed in his legal battles to obtain a telecoms licence, he persisted by filing an appeal with the country’s Constitutional Court.

By embracing the corrupt practises that were in place at the time, he could have easily avoided this conflict, but he stated that he intended to demonstrate that “it is possible to do business successfully in Africa without being corrupt”. 

He won the case four years later, just before filing for bankruptcy. With the government in place, going to court would have appeared to be a hopeless endeavour. But tenacity led to success.

5. Expanding the Empire

Generational wealth is a blessing, but it’s also a test. It takes a lot of intelligence and focus to expand the empire.

The chairman of Orascom Construction and the second-richest billionaire in Africa with an estimated net worth of $8.5 billion, Naseef Sawiris, did just that.

Despite coming from an affluent family, he and his siblings worked hard to grow their fortune into a multibillion dollar corporation.

As CEO, he concentrated on growing the company internationally and into a new industry: cement and construction materials, which he later sold to Lafarge for $12.8 billion.

He bought the Egyptian Fertiliser Company in the same year, which allowed him to enter the fertiliser industry.

6. Maintain relationships

With an $8 billion net worth, Nicky Oppenheimer is the third-richest person in Africa. He is the DeBeers diamond fortune’s heir.

Up until his retirement from the company, he continued to uphold the family’s business ties with De Beer.

Nicki Oppenheimer also understood and valued the importance of providing excellent customer service. He stated, 

“We all need to become more customer-focused and recognise the power of marketing to sell more diamonds.”

7. Accept discipline and diligent work

Maintain discipline and keep in mind that nothing can replace hard work.

People who have worked with Tony Elumelu since he was the young CEO of STB can attest to the fact that he enjoys putting in a lot of effort.

If you are not willing to put in a lot of work, it is impossible to make it through a bank day. He frequently arrived at work first in the morning and left the workplace last in the evening.

He continued to work throughout the day and took care of everything that needed his permission while he was conducting business abroad. He admits that practising discipline greatly influenced who he is today.


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