Jan. 2, 2017 (GIN) – Nigerian billionaire Mike Adenuga may not be the most well-known billionaire in the world but he was Africa’s biggest winner in 2016 – increasing his net worth by $2.7 billion to total $5.8 billion over the past year.
It was the largest increase among billionaires at a time when declining oil prices and devaluations were nibbling away at the bank accounts of the rich and richer.
Adenuga owns Nigeria’s second largest telecom company Globacom and Nigeria’s largest oil exploration company, Conoil Producing.
According to the website WealthResult.com, Adenuga worked his way through school as a taxi driver and security guard. After scoring a graduate degree in marketing at Pace University in New York, he returned home to capitalize on his friendships in the military. These brought him lucrative state construction contracts and an oil prospecting license from former military president Ibrahim Babangida.
Adenuga, with banks, construction and real estate in his portfolio, managed to weather the dip in oil profits but others were not as lucky. Aliko Dangote, the richest Nigerian and Africa’s richest man, saw his fortune fall from $17.2 billion this time last year to $12.4 billion, according to a Forbes magazine feature by Mfonobong Nsehe.
Nigerian oil magnate Femi Otedola, with a net worth of $375 million, had the biggest loss due to declining oil prices, losing 79% of his $1.8 billion nest egg in a year’s time.
Other prosperous Africans include South African mining billionaire Patrice Motsepe and Egyptian billionaires Nassef Sawiris and Naguib Sawiris, each adding $500 million to their fortunes over the year. Motsepe was also Africa’s second biggest percentage gainer; his net worth increased by 32% in 2016, bringing his fortune to $1.5 billion.
Africa’s youngest billionaire is Mohammed “Mo” Dewji of Tanzania. The country’s largest private employer, he promises to create thousands of new jobs for Tanzanians in the next few years.
Dewji, 41, studied business at Georgetown University and worked on Wall Street before returning home to take over his father’s commodities trading business. Today, his conglomerate, the Mohammed Enterprises Tanzania Limited (METL Group) operates in over 35 industries – trading, agriculture, manufacturing, energy, petroleum, financial services, and real estate – to mention a few.
Egypt and South Africa were the only African countries where more than half of the country’s billionaires got richer in 2016. In both, four out of seven billionaires added to their wealth in the past year. In Nigeria, meanwhile, only one of four billionaires got richer this year.