Ranked: Who Are the Richest People in Africa?
Ranked: Who Are the Richest People in Africa?
The African continent is home to 46 billionaires, the second-lowest total of any global region.
The number of wealthy individuals in Africa is growing, however. Total private wealth is expected to rise 30% over the next decade, led by growth in the billionaire and millionaire segments.
Visualized here are Africa’s richest, using data collected by Forbes, on billionaires who reside on the continent and have their primary business there.
Breaking Down Africa’s Billionaires
The richest man in Africa is also the richest Black man in the world. Once a small sugar trader, Aliko Dangote now has a net worth of $13.5 billion. He is the 86th richest person in the world, and single-handedly makes up 25% of the total wealth of African billionaires.
His company, the Dangote Group is now an African conglomerate with interests in a range of sectors, including sugar, cement, and real estate.
|Rank||Name||Net Worth (billions, USD)||Industry||Citizenship|
|1||Aliko Dangote||$13.5||Manufacturing||🇳🇬 Nigeria|
|2||Johann Rupert & family||$10.7||Fashion & Retail||🇿🇦 South Africa|
|3||Nicky Oppenheimer & family||$8.4||Metals & mining||🇿🇦 South Africa|
|4||Abdulsamad Rabiu||$7.6||Diversified||🇳🇬 Nigeria|
|5||Nassef Sawiris||$7.3||Construction & Engineering||🇪🇬 Egypt|
|6||Mike Adenuga||$6.3||Diversified||🇳🇬 Nigeria|
|7||Issad Rebrab & family||$4.6||Food & Beverage||🇩🇿 Algeria|
|8||Naguib Sawiris||$3.3||Telecom||🇪🇬 Egypt|
|9||Patrice Motsepe||$3.2||Metals & mining||🇿🇦 South Africa|
|10||Mohamed Mansour||$2.9||Diversified||🇪🇬 Egypt|
|11||Koos Bekker||$2.6||Media & Entertainment||🇿🇦 South Africa|
|12||Strive Masiyiwa||$1.9||Telecom||🇿🇼 Zimbabwe|
|13||Mohammed Dewji||$1.5||Diversified||🇹🇿 Tanzania|
|13||Aziz Akhannouch & family||$1.5||Diversified||🇲🇦 Morocco|
|13||Youssef Mansour||$1.5||Diversified||🇪🇬 Egypt|
The top three—Alike Dangote, Johann Rupert, and Nicky Oppenheimer—account for 40% of the total wealth of those ranked.
A Look Through the Rest of the Richest People in Africa
At number two on the list is Johann Rupert. The chairman of Swiss luxury goods company, Compagnie Financiere Richemont, started his career with a banking apprenticeship in New York, before returning to South Africa and eventually pivoting to retail.
Through the rest of those ranked, a range of diverse business activities have allowed these billionaires to garner their wealth.
Nicky Oppenheimer (3rd) and Patrice Motsepe (9th)—have made fortunes in the mining industry, a sector which contributes nearly 10% to sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP. Meanwhile, Naguib Sawiris (8th) and Strive Masiyiwa (12th) have built telecom empires.
Billionaire Wealth Mirrors Country Wealth
Only seven out of the 54 African countries are represented on Africa’s rich list, and even amongst them, three countries (Egypt, South Africa, and Nigeria) account for more than two-thirds of the top-ranked billionaires.
|Country||Rank in African Economy||Individuals on Top 15 Billionaire List|
|🇿🇦 South Africa||#2||4|
The home countries for these billionaires reflects the nations’ contribution to the African economy as a whole. Nigeria, South Africa, and Egypt have the top three GDPs in Africa.
Algeria—where Issad Rebrab (7th) is from—is ranked fourth, and Morocco—where Aziz Akhannouch (13th) is based—is fifth.
What’s Next For Africa’s Richest?
Africa has routinely been touted to become a future economic powerhouse as its demographic dividend pays off in the next few decades. However, its biggest challenge will be developing its economic and social infrastructure to retain local talent to make their fortunes at home.
Where does this data come from?
Data note: Forbes calculated net worths using stock prices and currency exchange rates from the close of business on Friday, January 13, 2023. For privately held businesses, they used estimates of revenues or profits and applied prevailing price-to-sale or price-to-earnings ratios for similar public companies. Some list members grew richer or poorer within weeks or days of their measurement date.
Mapped: The State of Economic Freedom in 2023
How free are people to control their own labor, property, and finances? This map reveals the state of economic freedom globally.
Mapped: The State of Economic Freedom in 2023
The concept of economic freedom serves as a vital framework for evaluating the extent to which individuals and businesses have the freedom to make economic decisions. In countries with low economic freedom, governments exert coercion and constraints on liberties, restricting choice for individuals and businesses, which can ultimately hinder prosperity.
The map above uses the annual Index of Economic Freedom from the Heritage Foundation to showcase the level of economic freedom in every country worldwide on a scale of 0-100, looking at factors like property rights, tax burdens, labor freedom, and so on.
The ranking categorizing scores of 80+ as free economies, 70-79.9 as mostly free, 60-69.9 as moderately free, 50-59.9 as mostly unfree, and 0-49.9 as repressed.
Measuring Economic Freedom
This ranking uses four broad categories with three key indicators each, both qualitative and quantitative, to measure economic freedom.
- Rule of law: property rights, judicial effectiveness, government integrity
- Size of government: tax burdens, fiscal health, government spending
- Regulatory efficiency: labor freedom, monetary freedom, business freedom
- Open markets: financial freedom, trade freedom, investment freedom
The 12 indicators are weighted equally and scored from 0-100. The overall score is then determined from the average of the 12 indicators.
Here’s a closer look at every country’s score:
|#5||🇳🇿 New Zealand||78.9|
|#15||🇰🇷 South Korea||73.7|
|#24||🇦🇪 United Arab Emirates||70.9|
|#25||🇺🇸 United States||70.6|
|#28||🇬🇧 United Kingdom||69.9|
|#45||🇨🇷 Costa Rica||66.5|
|#47||🇨🇻 Cabo Verde||65.8|
|#48||🇧🇳 Brunei Darussalam||65.7|
|#56||🇲🇰 North Macedonia||63.7|
|#59||🇻🇨 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||63.5|
|#63||🇧🇦 Bosnia and Herzegovina||62.9|
|#65||🇩🇴 Dominican Republic||62.6|
|#66||🇧🇸 The Bahamas||62.6|
|#74||🇸🇹 São Tomé and Príncipe||61.5|
|#79||🇱🇨 Saint Lucia||60.7|
|#81||🇨🇮 Côte d'Ivoire||60.4|
|#88||🇹🇹 Trinidad and Tobago||59.5|
|#98||🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia||58.3|
|#101||🇬🇲 The Gambia||57.9|
|#107||🇸🇧 Solomon Islands||56.9|
|#111||🇧🇫 Burkina Faso||56.2|
|#114||🇸🇻 El Salvador||56.0|
|#116||🇿🇦 South Africa||55.7|
|#136||🇱🇰 Sri Lanka||52.2|
|#140||🇵🇬 Papua New Guinea||51.7|
|#148||🇸🇱 Sierra Leone||50.2|
|#153||🇬🇶 Equatorial Guinea||48.3|
|#157||🇨🇩 Democratic Republic of the Congo||47.9|
|#166||🇨🇫 Central African Republic||43.8|
|#176||🇰🇵 North Korea||2.9|
Only four countries in the world have a score of 80 or above, Ireland, Singapore, Switzerland, and Taiwan, categorizing them as completely free economically.
Let’s now look at things from a more regional perspective.
From a regional perspective, Europe ranks the strongest in economic freedom.
Despite being a powerhouse within Europe, Germany ranks 10th in the continent, with a score of 73.7. One of the categories Germany scored the weakest in was government spending (28.3/100). Over the last three years, government spending has averaged 49% of GDP.
Ireland ranks third globally, scoring particularly high in categories like property rights and judicial effectiveness. The country also has no minimum capital requirement—which is typically a banking regulation and corporate law issue determining how many assets an organization must hold—making it attractive for businesses to set up shop on the Emerald Isle.
Currently, Africa is the continent with the least economic freedom in the world, however, it is also the region with the highest potential for economic growth. A booming population, and thus, labor force, are promising for future innovation. In fact, it’s anticipated that Africa will see an increase of 2.5 billion people by the end of the century.
The lowest scoring country in Africa is Sudan, a country under further strain thanks to rife civil conflict. Historically, economic development has been constrained by rampant corruption and a lack of institutional capacity.
Conversely, Botswana registered the highest score on continental Africa (64.9), ranking higher than countries like France and Italy.
In the Americas, the United States ranks 3rd regionally—25th overall—with a score of 70.6. The report attributes the categorization of U.S. as only “mostly free” to issues like inflation, increasing government debt, and unchecked deficit spending. Public debt currently sits at a figure equivalent to more than 128% of GDP.
In South America, Chile comes out on top, ranking above many other economic powerhouses like the U.S., the UK, and Japan. However, the 2021 election of a new Constitutional Assembly could risk the current economic state, as it favors a much more socialist approach to the economy.
East Asia and Oceania
China’s score is among the lowest in East Asia & Oceania, ranking 154th in the world categorizing it as a repressed economy. The ruling Chinese Communist Party routinely exercises direct control over economic activity. China’s protectionist stance towards foreign investment and a plethora of trade tariffs imposed by other nations also factor in here.
In India, where public debt is equivalent to about 84% of GDP, fiscal health is the worst-scoring category. Additionally, much of the economy remains quite informal; a large share of people work in jobs without tax slips, recorded income, or formal contracts protecting them, which challenges labor freedoms.
The Middle East and Central Asia
It may come as no surprise that the United Arab Emirates has the highest score in the Middle East. The UAE has implemented various measures and initiatives, such as tax exemptions, duty-free zones, streamlined business registration processes, and flexible regulatory frameworks to encourage entrepreneurship and foreign direct investment. As well, the top individual and corporate tax rates in the country are 0%.
Türkiye’s lowest scoring category relates to judiciary effectiveness and the rule of law. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has already been in power for two decades, recently won the country’s election, again cementing his authority over Turkish politics. This makes it unlikely that Türkiye’s economic freedom score will recover in the short to medium term.
Where Does This Data Come From?
Source: The Index of Economic Freedom from the Heritage Foundation
Data notes: A number of countries were not ranked due to unavailable data or other factors, like ongoing war, that made it difficult to properly assess the economy. These countries include: Ukraine, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Liechtenstein, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen.
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