Monday, 03 December 2012 00:00
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How 11 Nigeria’s richest people among 40 Africans made their money

AMID grim news about the global economy, Africa continues to receive  positive news as Forbes magazine, a leading source of reliable business news and financial information in its second annual list of the continent’s 40 wealthiest reflects growth across much of the continent's business activities.

Forty business moguls’ in the continent emerged among world's richest business people with a combined net worth, $72.9 billion, which is up 12 per cent over last year's. Among them are ten newcomers-including, for the first time, two women.

The 40Africa's richest operate in an array of industries, bolstered by a growing consumer sector. Only 4 of the 40 made their money in oil; 10, by contrast, have diversified fortunes, whether through ownership of a conglomerate or a portfolio comprising a range of assets. Six built their wealth in the financial industry.

Ten Nigerians ranked tops among the list of 40 Africans, among which are:

Aliko Dangote
Business mogul Alhaji Aliko Dangote, for the second year running, tops the 2012 edition of Forbes Africa’s 40 richest list.

He is also the 76th on the list of billionaires in the world, with a net worth of $12 billion from $10.1 billion in November 2011.

Dangote’s net worth lies in publicly-traded Dangote Cement, which operates in 14 African countries.

The Nigerian tycoon who was the first to back the nation's highest national honours, the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR), two years ago, built his empire on commodities like flour, sugar, while also runinng business outfits in salt and haulages
Nicky Oppenheimer of South Africa, again, emerged the second richest, with a $6.4 billion fortune, down $100 million from the previous year.

Mike Adenuga
Founder of Globacom telecommunications outfit, ranks second in Nigeria and fifth in the world, with a net worth of $4.6 billion from his telecoms and oil companies.

The reclusive tycoon has built a fortune in mobile telecom and oil production. He launched the Globacom mobile phone network in 2006.

It has about 30 million customers in Nigeria, with operations in the Republic of Benin, while it recently acquired licenses to start business in Ghana and Ivory Coast.

Nigeria's second richest man who also bagged the nation's second highest national honour Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR), this year after Dangote, had bidded $450 million for NITEL, the defunct government-owned telecom company, in July 2011.

His Conoil Producing, which was founded as Shell Company of Nigeria in 1927 and privatized in 2000, is one of Nigeria's largest independent oil companies, with a production capacity of 100,000 barrels per day.

Adenuga made his first fortune at age 26 in the 1970s by distributing lace and other materials, but he hit it big when the military regime of former President Ibrahim Babangida gave him a contract to build Army barracks.

Jim Ovia
Jim Ovia ranks 19th, with a net worth of $825 million. Founded, Zenith Bank group in 1990. The bank has grown into West Africa's second largest financial services provider by market capitalization and asset base.

He stepped down as chief executive in 2009 after a 20-year stint following a Nigerian Central Bank directive that limits the tenure of bank chiefs to 10 years. He still remains the largest individual shareholder; his stake is worth about $300 million.

 An equally large chunk of his wealth comes from a portfolio of prime real estate in Victoria Island and Ikoyi, some of Nigeria's priciest neighborhoods. Ovia devotes the majority of his time to managing Visafone, a telecom outfit he founded in 2007. He also owns Quantum, a private equity fund focused on Africa.

Abdulsamad Rabiu
Abdulsamad Rabiu, ranks 21st with net worth of $675 million, heads the BUA group, one of Nigeria's largest privately conglomerates, which operates in vast businesses like Sugar refinery

Rabiu started importing commodities over 20 years ago. The $1.6 billion (sales) group owns BUA Sugar refinery, is the second largest in Africa behind Dangote Sugar (owned by billionaire Aliko Dangote).

Other interests include BUA Oil Mills, the largest vegetable oil processing company in West Africa, and flour milling.

The group operates Nigeria's first floating cement terminal. Rabiu is one of the largest financiers of Nigeria's ruling People's Democratic Party and also serves as the chairman of the Bank of Industry, Nigeria.

Folorunsho Alakija
Top fashion designer, Chief (Mrs) Folorunsho Alakija, is one of the two women on the list, ranks 24th with a net worth of $600 million from her efforts in the oil sector.

Nigeria's richest woman draws the bulk of her fortune from oil. Folorunsho Alakija started her career in the mid 1970s as a secretary at the now-defunct International Merchant Bank of Nigeria, one of the West African nation's earliest investment banks. In the 1980s, after studying fashion design in England, she founded Supreme Stitches, a Nigerian fashion label that catered to upscale clientele. Her biggest break came in oil. In 1993 Nigerian President Ibrahim Babangida awarded her company, Famfa Oil, an oil prospecting license which went on to become OML 127, one of Nigeria's most prolific oil blocks.

Theophilus Danjuma
Theophilus Danjuma, former Defence Minister 73 year is 24th in the continent, with a net worth of $600 million from the oil sector.

Danjuma was awarded an oil block by the Sani Abacha regime in the 1990s. In 2006, he sold a 45 per cent stake to Chinese oil company CNOOC for $1.75 billion. His South Atlantic Petroleum Exploration company now owns a 5 per cent stake in the block, OML 130, one of Nigeria's most prolific.

The company is also the sole operator of a field offshore the Republic of Benin.

Oba Otudeko
Former Banker, and Honeywell Group founder Mr. Oba Otudeke, 68-year old, ranks 25th with a net worth of $575 million.

Former banker Oba Otudeko founded Honeywell Group in early 1980s. Now the $2.5 billion (sales) Nigerian conglomerate has interests in oil & gas, flour milling, real estate and marine transportation. He also owns a 14% stake in mobile phone giant Bharti Airtel's Nigerian operations, and a stake in Radisson Blu, a sprawling oceanfront hotel in Lagos, Nigeria. His son, Obafemi Otudeko, is being groomed to take over.

Mohammed Indimi
At the 27th position is founder of Oriental Oil Energy Resources Mohammed Indimi, with a net worth of $550 million from the oil and gas sector. A privately held Nigerian oil exploration and production company, Oriental has three projects in the offshore Nigerian oil and gas industry.

It shares ownership of the projects with U.K.-listed oil exploration company Afren Plc. Combined production of the three projects is 35,000 barrels per day. His net worth is up from $330

Lulu Briggs
82, O.B. Lulu-Briggs also makes the list on the 31st spot, with a net worth of $500 million from the oil sector.

A revered Nigerian statesman Briggs is the founder and chairman of Moni Pulo Limited, an oil exploration and production company.

Moni Pulo was awarded its first oil block in 1992, as an indigenous participant in the upstream sector of the oil and gas industry. The company currently has oil blocks in Ondo state, Abia and Akwa-Ibom state.

Its flagship project, OML 114, produces 10,000 barrels per day. Along with his wife, a pastor, he funds the O.B Lulu Briggs Foundation, which provides humanitarian services to rural communities.

Sani Bello
Sani Bello, former Military Governor from Kano, and former Ambassador to Zimbabwe ranks 37th with a net worth of $425 million.

He has built a fortune in oil and telecom. He co-founded AMNI Petroleum, an oil exploration company with a 50 per cent interest in the Okoro and Setu oil fields, located in shallow water offshore Nigeria. AMNI shares ownership of the Okoro field with London-listed exploration firm Afren.

Bello also owns a minority stake in mobile telecom firm MTN Nigeria (a unit of South Africa-based MTN Group), where he is vice-chairman of the board. His Sani Bello foundation provides small loans and grants to young Nigerian entrepreneurs.

Hakeem Bello-Osagie
Standing tall at the end of the list is Hakeem Belo-Osagie, 57-year-old Harvard-trained petroleum economist, with an estimated $400 million net worth from the oil sector.

Osagie, chairs the Nigerian operations of United Arab Emirates-based telecom provider Etisalat. Through his holding companies, Premium Telecommunications Holdings and MyaCynth, he controls a 12.5 per cent stake in Etisalat Nigeria.

A dedicated philanthropist, he is one of the largest donors to the African Leadership Academy, a residential secondary institution in Johannesburg, South Africa, which trains Africa's brightest students for a future of leadership.