TELECOMS entrepreneur Strive Masiyiwa with an estimated US$1.46 billion fortune is Zimbabwe’s sole contribution to the list of Africa’s billionaires who now number 55, a continental business magazine revealed this week.
According to a new study by Nigeria-based business magazine Ventures Africa, the continent now has 55 billionaires, up from previous estimates of between 16 and 25 by the US-based Forbes magazine.
Africa’s super-rich list compares favourably with Latin America, which had 51 at last count (Forbes) but has some way to go if it’s to top the super-rich tally in Asia, which is home to 399 billionaires as of 2013.
“This list is a tribute to the entrepreneurial heartbeat within Africa,” said Chi-Chi Okonjo founder of the respected continental business publication.
The report credits the surge in energy prices over the last decade for the increase in the number of billionaires with Nigerian cement, sugar and flour tycoon Aliko Dangote, said to be worth $20.2 billion, topping the list.
Three women – the mother of Kenya’s president, a daughter of Angola’s president and a Nigerian oil tycoon and fashion designer also make the list.
Econet Wireless founder Masiyiwa was named among “a large number of African billionaires on whose fortunes have never been accurately calculated” before.
Ranked number 31 on the list, the South Africa-based tycoon is founder and chairman of Econet Wireless International, a telecoms giant which boasts 11 million subscribers and operating in some 15 countries in Africa, Europe, the USA, Latin America and the Asia-Pacific region.
Now 52, Masiyiwa started out in business at the age of 25 when he founded Retrofit Engineering before going on to establish Econet Wireless and expanding its operations into continent and other parts of the world.
Apart from telecoms, the Econet group, whose Zimbabwe unit is now one of the country’s largest companies, also has interests in satellite services, banking, insurance and renewable energy.
A devout Christian and philanthropist, Masiyiwa also offers scholarships to some 35,000 orphans through a charity organisation run by his wife, Tsitsi and operates in Zimbabwe, Burundi, Lesotho and South Africa.
Arica Ventures said its list was compiled using financial reports, by tracking equity holdings around stock markets and identifying specific shareholding structures in large, privately-held companies.Advertisement
The results have been corroborated with investment bankers, realtors and financial analysts to determine proper values for companies, real estate and other assets, such as art collections, jets, yachts and jewellery.