Nigerian industrialist Aliko Dangote keeps his position as Africa’s wealthiest man for the 12th consecutive year, despite a $400m drop in his fortune to $13.5bn, according to Forbes’ list of African billionaires for 2023.
The year-to-year decrease in Dangote’s fortune is explained by a drop in the value of Dangote Cement shares – of which he owns 85% – as well as a year of elevated inflation due to a very volatile global environment.
Johann Rupert, the founder of the Swiss luxury goods holding company Richemont, stays at number two on the richlist despite significant losses – his fortune fell by $300m to $10.7bn, partly because Richemont’s share price fell to its lowest level in more than two years.
South African Nicky Oppenheimer, who sold his family’s 50-year-old stake in diamond mining giant De Beers for $5.1bn in 2012, stays in the top three with a net worth estimated at $8.4bn, a $300m decline compared to January 2022.
This year the continent welcomes a new billionaire, South African Christo Wiese, who returns to the list after winning $500m in a multi-year legal battle against retailer Steinhoff.
This year’s ranking includes 19 magnates, who come from seven different countries and work in eight different industry sectors. However, despite Wiese’s return, their combined fortune is down from $84.9bn to $81.5bn.
“These tycoons’ fortunes faded in sync with equity values around the world, with the S&P All Africa index dropping more than 20% in the first nine months of 2022,” says Forbes.
Positive outlook for the continent’s tycoons
But the rebound in stock prices at the beginning of 2023 offers a glimpse of hope for Africa’s richest men. Stock price returns from Africa’s biggest companies jumped from $839 in late December to $1105 at the end of January.
As far as the Dangote empire is concerned, this year is expected to be one of serious business as his long-awaited refinery – located to the south-east of Lagos – is expected to open before the end of the last quarter of 2023.
The complex will be the largest single-train refinery in the world and process over 650,000 barrels per day, ultimately boosting the Nigerian businessman’s fortune performance and consolidating his position as Africa’s richest man.