By Mutsa Makuvaza
ACCORDING to the Forbes list of Africa’s Richest People 2021, Zimbabwean telecoms baron Strive Masiyiwa, aged 59, fell from 8th place twelve months ago to position 16th on the continent. His net worth as of January 2021 stands at US$1,2 billion.
Forbes says its latest lists tracks the wealth of African billionaires who reside in Africa or have their primary business there, thus excluding Sudanese-born billionaire Mo Ibrahim, who is a U.K. citizen and billionaire London resident Mohamed Al-Fayed, an Egyptian citizen.
Masiyiwa, a citizen of Zimbabwe and a London resident, appears on the list due to his Econet and Liquid telecom holdings in Zimbabwe and Africa.
The country’s only billionaire, Forbes says Masiyiwa overcame protracted government opposition to launch mobile phone network Econet Wireless Zimbabwe in in 1998.
He owns just over 50% of the publicly-traded Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, which is one part of his larger Econet Group.
Masiyiwa also owns just over half of private company Liquid Telecom, which provides fiber optic and satellite services to telecom firms across Africa.
His other assets include stakes in mobile phone networks in Burundi and Lesotho, and investments in fintech and power distribution firms in Africa.
Masiyiwa is married to Tsitsi and the couple has six (6) children.
Strive and Tsitsi founded the Higherlife Foundation, which supports orphaned and poor children in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Burundi and Lesotho.
THE highest Masiyiwa achieved in the rankings was 8th position in 2019, which he shared with South African business magnate Patrice Motsepe.
But the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s decision in June that year to ban all foreign currencies and use only the Zimbabwe dollar accelerated inflation and sent the value of the newly instituted dollar plummeting.
That, in turn, caused Masiyiwa’s stakes in those companies—telecom firm Econet Wireless Zimbabwe and mobile banking firm Cassava Smartech—to tumble in U.S. dollar terms. The result: Masiyiwa’s fortune has fallen to US$1.1 billion, down from US$2.3 billion within months.
“We calculated net worths using stock prices and currency exchange rates from the close of business on Friday, January 8, 2021,” Forbes announced in a statement accompanying the latest list.
For the tenth year in a row, Aliko Dangote of Nigeria is the continent’s richest person, worth $12.1 billion, up by $2 billion from last year’s list thanks to a roughly 30% rise in the share price of Dangote Cement, by far his most valuable asset.
Nassef Sawiris of Egypt, whose largest asset is a nearly 6% stake in sportswear maker Adidas is the second richest in Africa.
Nicky Oppenheimer of South Africa was the third, he inherited a stake in diamond firm DeBeers and ran the company until 2012, when he sold his family’s 40% stake in DeBeers to mining giant AngloAmerican for $5.1 billion.
In Africa—as elsewhere in the world—the wealthiest have come through the pandemic just fine. The continent’s 18 billionaires are worth an average $4.1 billion, 12% more than a year ago.
The 18 billionaires from Africa hail from seven different countries. South Africa and Egypt each have five billionaires, followed by Nigeria with three and Morocco with two. Altogether they are worth $73.8 billion, slightly more than the $73.4 billion aggregate worth of the 20 billionaires on last year’s list of Africa’s richest people. – Forbes / Zimbabwe Voice 🔺