Forbes Billionaires: There’s an African on the list

He’s a Nigerian by the name of Aliko Dangote.  He owns a sugar and cement company.  I heard on the radio today that he controls a company that supplies European candy makers with most of their refined sugar.   I did not know that most of Europes refined sugar comes from Africa.  His company also supplies the Nigerian government with the cement it is using to build roads, buildings, etc, etc….

I suppose since Forbes has him on the list, his money is relatively clean (based on African standards at least).  The article says he is also a close ally of former president Obasanjo.  No age was given, but he looks to be either in his mid-fifties or early sixties (link to article here).

He became a billionaire after his company was listed on the Nigerian stock exchange. It’s pretty clear now that if you want to become a billionaire, you have to take your company public. 

  • Kenya grows sugar.  What do the farmers do with it? Do they have to sell it through one of those useless government controlled boards?
  • Why doesn’t Kenya allow agricultural commodities to be listed on the Nairobi Stock exchange? They are listed everywhere else in the world (in America, in brazil, etc, etc). 

I’ve never understood why those boards continue to exist.  They are a relic of the colonial era and the British used them to ensure their own wealth.  Then of course, African governments kept them after independence and used them as repositiries for political favors, graft and corruption.  There was a time Moi decreed that coffee and tea from central province should not only be sold at less quantities, but that it should be bought for less money (tea from Kericho took precedence and that was one of the reasons that Kenya’s coffee and tea industries in central province collapsed during his presidency).  How do you get rich by trying to take or destroy other people’s wealth? Don’t you have to create new wealth? isn’t that the answer?

**There is a black South African on the list.

22 comments for “Forbes Billionaires: There’s an African on the list

  1. Roy Jr
    June 6, 2009 at 2:46 am
  2. Roy Jr
    June 6, 2009 at 2:31 am

    I was reading business week and came across with kenyan born billionaire(yes in dollars) and I was shocked. I’m pretty sure you will to.

    Fisher Island, Fla., and Troy, Mich.
    Bharat Desai

    How’d he get so rich? Desai is the co-founder and CEO of Syntel, a multibillion-dollar information technology company headquarted in Troy, Mich. The Kenyan-born, Indian-educated Desai was one of the early technology outsourcing leaders and divides his time between Troy, Fisher Island, Mumbai, and Syntel’s new 1,800-acre campus in Pune, India. Desai has a fortune estimated at $1 billion.

  3. Anonymous
    August 13, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    :idea: :grin: :evil: :cool: :???: :smile: :shock: :arrow: :twisted: :neutral: :mrgreen: :oops: :roll: :wink: :cry: :eek: :lol: :mad: :sad: :!: :?: i am a billionnaire toooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

  4. razor
    March 12, 2008 at 8:38 pm

    Mohamed al amudi is not african, he is a saudi citizen.

  5. fala
    March 12, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    please i beg to differ this Nigerian dude ain’t seen no money the richest African on the Forbes list is from Ethiopia the dude is called Mohamed ala mudin.this is the true picture of balling on full auto pilot, the money chain never ends for this brother so check your facts.77th richest in the world no.1 in Africa.

  6. Kaangumu
    March 10, 2008 at 9:05 am


    I have done some research and the following link may offer some insight into the matter.


  7. razor
    March 8, 2008 at 10:47 pm

    just what:
    C’mmon, give this guy some credit, he took his company public ,his shares must have sold well for a good reason . Wait until u discover some emerging funds from the ” prosperous society ” may be stocking up his shares (in your companys 401k).
    And d’you mean to say that, because american billionaires sell their goods and services to the “prosperous society”, is why their money counts.
    I will give you an example:The Firestone family may sell their tires or latex to a prosperous consumer, but see how they feed off these really poor non-countrymen (may I say liberians). .


    And there are 1000′s of examples

  8. KE
    March 8, 2008 at 2:13 pm


    Are you sure that the government in botswana owns all the land? you need to double check that info. I think they only own the land where the minerals lie. Anyway, botswana’s wealth comes mainly from it’s diamonds, not from agriculture and they have a very small population relative to Kenya.

    Just what:

    What do you mean the Nigerian’s money doesn’t count? How about all those Indian billionaires who are also making money in a country with lots of poor people? And America didn’t become prosperous overnight. People like Rockerfeller were making loads of money during the great depression. I actually think more and more Africans are going to start showing up on that list. The continent is mineral rich, it’s finally embracing free markets and capitalism and countries like China and India are in desperate need of Africa’s mineral resources.

  9. Kaangumu
    March 8, 2008 at 11:14 am

    Great point you made there! Pack everyone in towns and let gava and large scale farmers till the land. Botswana does that. No one owns land there but the gava. If you want to keep cattle, they have designated “cattle posts” areas and there’s a number of animals and capital you’re supposed to have before being “loaned” the land free by the gava. That way Botswana exports more beef than the rest of Africa.

    Like you said, the government of Botswana has built self-contained towns all over the country. All the superdukas you see in Gaborone can be seen in a remote place like Ghanzi and the rest.

    Maybe we need to look over our shoulder and see what’s working in our brother’s boma.

  10. just what?
    March 8, 2008 at 3:44 am

    the american billionaires may not be angels, but they make their money in a mostly prosperous society. the naija-man who has billions to his name feeds off the rest of his (really really poor) countrymen. thats why such money simply wouldn’t count for me.

    true about the quarter-acres. those only work in diamond mines or goldfields.

  11. MZEIYA
    March 7, 2008 at 2:55 pm


    It’s true we have billionaires in kenya. However, to be a forbes billionaire, you have to have a net worth of $ 1.3 Billion.

    There’s a big difference between a “kenya” billionaire and a “forbes” one.

    We have the likes of kina Meralli, The Equity CEO Chris Kirubi who are all billionaires in kenyan terms, however do we have people who have net worths of over $1.3 Billion, and NOTE It’s DOLLARS.

    I read an article claimiing that Kibaki’s family was worth some 2Billion kSKS, which roughly translates to around $ 25 million dollars..which is chicken feed for forbes.

    To be on this list, this kenyan would have to be equal to a net worth of

    %1.3 billion * kshs 70 = kshs 90 billion. I think that’s the correct math, but feel free to multiply it for yourself.


    Excellent point about raw Vs Finished goods. I case the exception to this are those countries with crude oil coz they sell their product in it’s raw form.

    However most of these countries have invested in huge refinery plants in their countries thus making the oil cheap for their people.

    This is where Naija went wrong, due to poor leadership, crude would be extracted from Naija, taken overseas for refining, then re-imported back at retail prices for nigerian consumers. This is the same case with iran, they have large oil deposits but no refining capabilities.

    Refinieries are expensive to invest in, the kenya gava alone is trying to raise $ 300 million to upgrade the refinery at changamwe.

    Had Naija invested in refineries, they’d refine their own crude and sell it to their people at dirt cheap prices.

    People, it’s all about leadership and visionary leadership. But on the positive front, Naija is emerging as a heavy hitter country within africa. do you know that in 2005 (i think ) they repiad all their foreign debt..yaani they have no foreign debt obligations…amazing…but that happened after the new finance minister was brought in, a woman, can’t remember her name. But sadly, in true African fashion, you get punished for actually doing your job- Obasanjo transferred her to a differnt ministry then she left in frustation…. anyone remember Githongo ? he did his job and had to “resign” coz of effectively doing his job..

  12. pesadodo
    March 7, 2008 at 2:07 pm


    Thanks for that information. I really enjoy your thoughts.

    How about foreign ownership of Kenyan companies? Would there be more billionaires if (smart, honest Kenyans) managed and ran these? or may be created competitor companies? Take as an example the Magadi Soda company, it does not appear to have any Kenyan ownership:

    “The Magadi Soda company was established in 1911 and became a wholly owned subsidiary of Brunner Mond in 1924. In 1926 Brunner Mond combined with other British chemical companies to form Imperial Chemical Industries Ltd (better known by its initials ICI).”.

    Maybe KE or someone knowledgeable can start a serial analysis of publically listed companies in Kenya that are foreign-owned:- Their worth, how much they generate, how much of their profits stay in Kenya etc. This way, we can begin to understand our potential, start competitive companies where possible and start to make our own billionaires….


  13. TheTruth
    March 7, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    I’m sure there are Kenyan billionaires, only they couldn’t possibly reveal their assets lest they are exposed for the corrupt criminals they are. Look at Anglo-Leasing, the govt completely refused to divulge who was behind it. Anyone who kulad those billions will not come out and say “I’m a billionaire and here is where my money came from.”

    Otherwise, good to see blacks rising up: first potential black president of the USA; first black Africans in Forbes; 2008 might just end up being good year afterall.

  14. razor
    March 7, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    just what?
    I don’t agree with you that only americans can be “true billionaires” ….Our naija broda just learned how to play their game. Learning how to wash your hands, and shake some hands, while stepping on some toes, before taking a company public…and have some political powers watching your back.

  15. razor
    March 7, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    lord & mzeiya,
    You have good points.
    Until kenyans understand the importance of processing, producing and marketing goods : only then ,will they understand how money is made. Wealth is not created by SELLING RAW MATERIALS then wait for somebody turn them to something we can CONSUME.
    Look at that poor woman who gathers every egg the hen lays only to sell them at the end of the week for a loaf of bread, year after year. Guese how much she’d get more than a piece bread .
    Thats the perception Africa has (earning a daily bread) with its copper,magadisoda , gold, pyreythrum etc . The difference is the scale.
    We have to end this barter trade mentality ….Why should a farmer sell a debe of coffee beans for less than a dollar, and guess how many cups that tranlates to at starbucks or dunkin.

    Mohammed Al Amoudi should be the richest african..but he’s not african anymore, he is black and was born in ethiopia…and he’s richer than Oprah.

  16. MZEIYA
    March 7, 2008 at 12:46 pm


    Finally, like a breadth of fresh air, these are the issues we should be talkin about, i.e. real biz and how we can uplift kenya to that status.

    However, unfortunately in africa/kenya, politics has a direct impact on your life.in the U.S. whoever wins the presidency won’t really affect your daily life. but anyway back to biz:

    There’s also a south african guy called Motsepe as Sijui had mentioned.

    I’ve always wondered what the deal was with sugar? I mean I always read articles in the kenya dailies about sijui which trader’s sugar was impounded at the port, mara sijui sugar farmers are protesting coz the gava is allowing people to import sugar, etc, etc. and I’m left wondering why we still fuss over commodity products like sugar ?

    wE NEED A very progressive Agriculture Minister who has a business mind. He should first get rid off all the red tape involved in this industry with all the boards, authorities , etc.

    I also think the gava should drastically reduce it’s business holdings. It should sell those businesses and use the proceeds to supplement it’s income.

    example, Kenya Ports Authority, and Kenya Airports Authority. These bodies should be privatized thru a listing at the stock exchanges. Most of teh government companies privatized this way do much better than those sold to private investors. Look at the railways- still slackin with that south african who is just all domo , always giving excuses, no results.

    Look at KCB, This former gava bank has passed all expectations and iz now expanding regionally. They thus had to chnage their name to KCB.
    kenya airways, kengen etc, all doing well.

    In a few years, I’m confident we’ll start seeing kenyans on forbes list, and kenyans who can actually account for their wealth, not Biwott types.
    Josh you might teh first one !

  17. Sijui
    March 7, 2008 at 11:49 am

    Motsepe’s story is more inspirational……not taking anything away from Dangote but Motsepe is the quintessential ‘hail Mary’ success story……guts, competence and never say die sweat equity.

    Congratulations to both men, especially Motsepe!!!!

  18. concept
    March 7, 2008 at 11:03 am

    The vintage you is back. Let us hear more on business than politics. Cheers man.

  19. lord
    March 7, 2008 at 10:20 am

    # just what?

    Good point…Flat areas are machanisable …so in this flat areas consolidate land..Grow more of the crop (sugar or anything else valuable)

    Consolidate also the slopy areas…They are ideal for growing Timber,Bamboo and other wood products~ Bamboo and wood is like Gold this days~check market

    CONSOLIDATED LAND (be it FLAT or STEEP) offers ecomies of scale…Get RID OF PEASANT MENTALITY if you want to grow rich

    TELL ME any rich country where people grow cash crops on QUARTER ACRES

    Again lets not export raw materials…lets process em… but then that is the work of the budding billionaires


  20. just what?
    March 7, 2008 at 10:08 am

    nigerian billionaire=thief billionaire. i could steal a healthy state company say kenya pipeline, and float it at the exchange (like abramovich &co). the true billionaires are the american geeks,oilmen and financiers and some of the old european blood. so dont tell me of a ‘true’ african billionaire.

    flat areas like sudan & kenya’s nyanza adapt well to mechanized farming, but what of the steeper parts, say embu & kisii?

  21. lord
    March 7, 2008 at 8:17 am


    Kenya grows sugar…but only on small scale growers holdings ..The Key to making any wealth in Kenya lies in LAND REFORM. and here i mean LAND REFORM

    You cannot go anywhere using small scale farmers…Sudan which grows sugar can come down to as low as KES 2 per kg to break even..And thats because of large scale growing…Imagin land the size of Nyanza & Western under nothing but sugar. You will never beat them

    My propsals are this

    1) If one does not own over 10000 HA of farming land pack and go to town

    2) Gov to set out urban areas and build low cost hygenic house (they could be mud and grass)..but with electricity & runnining water for the millions of families…

    3) Nobody should stay anywhere but towns

    . The towns will provide mkt and labour for farmers (large sacle)

    . Towns will set up light industries to process farm produce(Nigerian Bilioniare)…Econmic activities will mushroom.

    This will set a stage to produce a billionaire

    Otherwise welcome to the show the Kalenjin warriors VS Mungiki



  22. Josh
    March 6, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    A challenge to Kenyans I daresay.

    But shall we be able to produce a Billionaire if your business is restricted to your ancestral home????? LOL!

    Over to you Kenyan men and women entrepreneurs.

    I want be the first Kenyan Billionaire on that list…….

    Any ideas anyone????

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