+ Who they are and how they make their billions
Like the biblical Israel, Nigeria is a land flowing with milk and honey. It is a country blessed with not only abundant natural resources and arable expanse of land, but also human resources.
Over the decades, Nigeria has produced individuals who have dominated different fields of human endeavour – be it sports, medicine, education, politics and business.
With this in mind, it came as no surprise that when leading American business magazine, Forbes released its 2014 Africa’s 50 Richest People list, 13 Nigerians were comfortably on it.
These Nigerians have fought and overcome the diverse economic challenges bedeviling the nation and are now among the continent’s richest 50 according to Forbes, they are…
Aliko Dangote: Chairman & CEO, Dangote Group. Net worth: $21.6bn (1st)
Aliko Dangote (57) has been both Nigeria’s and Africa’s richest person for so long that it is starting to look like it’s his birthright. The Kano state-born business tycoon earned his jaw-dropping $21.6bn (N5.58tr) net worth from several businesses that he founded. His interest in business started at a very young age where he would buy sugar boxes and would sold them just to make money.
After studying business at the Al- Azhar University in Cairo (Egypt), he returned to Nigeria and got a loan of ₦500,000 from his uncle to start a business. Today, the Dangote Group is a multi-trillion naira conglomerate with many of its operations in Benin republic, Ghana, Nigeria, and Togo. Dangote Group covers food processing, cement manufacturing, freight, textiles, real estate, oil and gas. It also dominates the sugar market in Nigeria and is a major sugar supplier to the country’s soft drink companies, breweries, and confectionaries. His company employs over 11,000 people and is the largest industrial conglomerate in West Africa. Aliko is also a philanthropist, he donated N150 million to halt the spread of the ebola virus.
Mike Adenuga: CEO, Globacom and Conoil. Net worth: $4.7bn (6th)
Born Michael Adeniyi Agbolade Ishola Adenuga, he is the man behind Globacom, Nigeria’s second-largest telecom operator and has an estimated net worth of $4.7bn (N763.6bn). The savvy businessman has stakes in the Sterling Bank and also the oil exploration firm, Conoil (formerly known as Consolidated Oil Company). He primarily built his fortune through the mobile telecommunications as well as oil production.
In 2006, he founded Globacom and today it has about 24 million customers in Nigeria, with millions more in the Republic of Benin. The company also has licenses in Ghana and Ivory Coast. Conoil Producing, on the other hand, is recognized to be one of the largest independent exploration companies within the country, with a production capacity of 100,000 barrels of oil daily.
The business tycoon’s journey to fortunes began when he was 26 as a distributor of lace and other materials. This experience allowed him to slowly accumulate enormous wealth and by March 2013, he became the second richest person in Nigeria and the fifth richest in Africa.
Folorunsho Alakija: Vice Chairman, Famfa Oil and MD, Rose of Sharon group. Net worth: $2.5bn (12th)
Ranked the second richest woman in Africa and the 96th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes, mother of four Folorunsho Alakija has come a long way from her days as executive secretary at Sijuade Enterprises, Lagos, Nigeria.
Born in 1951 to the family of Chief L.A. Ogbara in Ikorodu, Lagos State, the business mogul is involved in the fashion, oil and printing industries.
She is the group managing director of The Rose of Sharon Group which consists of The Rose of Sharon Prints & Promotions Limited and Digital Reality Prints Limited, as well as the executive vice-chairman of Famfa Oil Limited.
In May 1993, Folorunsho applied for the allocation of an oil prospecting license (OPL). The license to explore for oil on a 617,000-acre block – now referred to as OPL 216 – was granted to Alakija’s company, Famfa Limited. The block is located approximately 220 miles south east of Lagos and 70 miles offshore of Nigeria in the Agbami Field of the central Niger Delta. In September 1996, she entered into a joint venture agreement with Star Deep Water Petroleum Limited (a subsidiary of Texaco) and appointed the company as a technical adviser for the exploration of the license, transferring 40 percent of her 100 percent stake to Star Deep. Subsequently, Star Deep sold off 8 percent of its stake in OPL 216 to Petrobras, a Brazilian company. She is Nigeria’s richest and she’s worth $2.5bn (N415bn).
Theophilus Danjuma: Chairman, South Atlantic Petroleum. Net worth: $1.1bn (22nd)
Theophilus Danjuma, a former Nigerian defense minister, is the founder and owner of South Atlantic Petroleum (SAPETRO), a Nigerian upstream oil and gas exploration and production company. It owns a 15% stake in the Akpo deepwater oil field alongside operator Total and China’s CNOOC. Oil production in Akpo began in 2009. He also owns a stake in Notore Chemical Industries, a manufacturer of urea fertilizer, as well as a stake in NALComet, one of Nigeria’s largest shipping companies. His net worth has risen since last year due to more detailed information about SAPETRO’s assets.
Tony Elumelu: UBA Plc. Net worth: $1bn – (joint 26th)
51-year-old Tony Elumelu, one of Africa’s most revered business leaders, makes his debut on the Forbes list of Africa’s richest this year, thanks to a variety of investments, including a controlling interest in Transcorp, Nigeria’s largest publicly-traded conglomerate; a significant stake in the United Bank for Africa; and an extensive portfolio of real estate across Nigeria, among other assets. Elumelu has carved a reputation as a corporate turnaround artist. In 1997, when he was 34, he led a small group of investors to acquire Standard Trust Bank, a struggling commercial bank in Lagos, and restored the bank to profitability within a few years. In 2005, he merged the bank with the United Bank for Africa (UBA) and transformed it from a single-country commercial bank into a financial services institution with operations in several African countries. He served as CEO until 2010. He subsequently set up Heirs Holding to invest across Africa.
Elumelu is the author and leading proponent of ‘Africapitalism,’ an economic philosophy that advocates the private sector’s commitment to Africa’s development through long-term investment in strategic sectors of the economy.
Orji Uzor Kalu: Chairman, SLOK Holding, Daily Sun, First Int’l Bank Ltd. And New Telegraph. Net worth: $1bn – (joint 26th)
Orji Uzor Kalu is new to Forbes list of Africa’s 50 Richest this year. He is the founder of SLOK Holding, a $2.5 billion (N415bn) (in annual revenues) West African conglomerate with interests in shipping, banking, oil trading, manufacturing and the media. He got his start in business at age 19 after being expelled from university for spearheading a series of student riots. He then took a $35 loan from his mother and started trading commodities like palm oil, rice, sugar, salt and flour. He diversified into furniture manufacturing and transportation and became a millionaire by the time he was 20. He hit the big time in the early 80s when the Nigerian military government awarded him lucrative contracts to import and supply arms and ammunition to Nigeria’s military and defense forces. He is the immediate-past governor of Abia state.
Femi Otedola: Chairman, Forte Oil. Net worth: $900m (29th)
Energy tycoon, Femi Otedola heads petroleum marketing company, Forte Oil, whose shares soared starting in the spring of 2014 but have fallen from the high levels reached in June. Otedola is the controlling shareholder of Forte Oil, with a 75% stake. The company owns gas stations and fuel storage depots and manufactures its own line of engine oils.
Jim Ovia: Chairman, Zenith PLC and Visafone. Net worth: $850m (30th)
In July this year, Jim Ovia was appointed chairman of Zenith Bank Group, the large commercial bank he founded more than 20 years ago. He remains the bank’s largest individual shareholder with a 9.3 percent stake.
His other assets include real estate across Nigeria and Visafone, a mobile telecom outfit. In August, he started construction on a $1.5 billion petrochemical complex in Akwa-Ibom.
AbdulSamad Rabiu, CON – Chairman, BUA group. Net worth: $700m 33rd
Kano state-born American-educated businessman, Abdulsamad Rabiu’s father, Khalifah was one of Nigeria’s foremost industrialists in the 1970s and 1980s. AbdulSamad is the founder and chairman of BUA Group, a conglomerate with interests in manufacturing, infrastructure and agriculture with a revenue in excess of $2.5 billion (N415bn). He is also the chairman of Nigerian Bank of Industry. He is married with four children and has been touted as the next Dangote. His net worth is $700m (116.2bn).
Mohammed Indimi – Oriental Energy Resources. Net worth: $670m (37th)
66-year-old Mohammed Indimi founded Oriental Energy Resources, a privately-held oil exploration and production company of which he remains chairman. Oriental currently has three projects offshore of Nigeria. Six of his eight children serve on the company’s board. He sits on $670m (N111.2bn).
Tunde Folawiyo: MD, Yinka Folawiyo Group. Net worth: $650m (39th)
Tunde Folawiyo is the managing director of the Yinka Folawiyo Group, conglomerate with interests in energy, agriculture, shipping, real estate and engineering. His father, Wahab Folawiyo, a well known businessman and Islamic leader, started the group in 1957 as a commodities trading outfit and served as chairman until 2008 when he passed away. Folawiyo now calls the shots. The company’s oil exploration firm, Yinka Folawiyo Petroleum, owns a 60% interest in an oil block that contains the Aje Offshore Field. Other assets include minority stakes in Access Bank and mobile phone carrier MTN Nigeria.
Hakeem Bello-Osagie: Chairman, Etisalat. Net worth: $600m (41st)
Hakeem Belo-Osagie is the chairman of Etisalat Nigeria, Nigeria’s fourth largest mobile telecom network, with more than 18 million subscribers. His father was the gynecologist to the family of former Nigerian military president Ibrahim Babangida. Through that connection, he was able to secure a job as a Special Assistant to the Presidential Adviser on petroleum and energy and later as Special Assistant to the Minister of Petroleum and Energy, positions which he admits put him in a position to close a few oil deals from where he made his first fortune. In 1998, he acquired a controlling stake in the United Bank For Africa (UBA) but was ousted out by the Central Bank in the wake of allegations of fraudulent practices orchestrated by him. He also owns First Securities Discount House, a money markets and Treasury bill trading and financial services firm in Nigeria. He is one of the sponsors of a new $120 million (N1.99bn) shopping mall currently being developed in Jabi Lake in the FCT, Abuja. He sits on a hefty $600m (N99.6bn).
Oba Otudeko: Chairman, Honeywell Group and Radisson Blu. Net worth: $550m (46th)
Oba Otudeko is the founder and chairman of Honeywell Group. The conglomerate’s operations stretch across oil and gas, flour milling, real estate and marine transportation. Another piece of his fortune is in the oceanfront Radisson Blu in Lagos, Nigeria. His net worth is $550m (N91.3bn).
– MICHAEL NWOKIKE