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Who are The Top Billionaires in Africa? (Book Review)
Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson, Elon Musk,…You could probably continue with this list ad infinitum, or so I thought until I turned the lens from the West and looked back home, here in Africa. Ask anyone of school-going age who Elon Musk or Bill Gates is and they can immediately identify these multi-billionaires.
However, if asked to reiterate that same list for African dollar billionaires, choking is inevitable. If you were an above-average reader you’d probably name Aliko Dangote and you would be right. Imagine, for a moment, if someone compiled a list of Africa’s top dollar billionaires and told their unique stories. Seems surreal but Vincent Ogutu, a Kenyan author has done it in his book, Who Are The Top Billionaires in Africa? How You Can Use The Problems in Africa as Your Greatest Opportunity.
Forbes and other Western publications have done a great job in documenting the stories of their own but little has been written about our own. Yes, there are multi-billionaires in Africa measured by international metrics and not just their local currencies. Most have large conglomerates that traverse numerous borders in Africa and have provided employment to tens of thousands. Some run global financial and industrial juggernauts and sadly their genesis stories have been lost in the annals of history. For the few that have been documented, their stories seem obscured by dispassionate writers but that has changed with the entrance of this book.
The key thesis of the book stems from the fact that most people tend to see problems in every opportunity but few see the opportunities in every problem. As such, the selected eleven entrepreneurs who turned into self-made billionaires fall in the latter category. Most were bit by the entrepreneurial bug early in their lives while others were taught the ropes of their trade by their predecessors and/ or parents. The author is careful to not only share their stories but also practical lessons and nuggets that one could pick up from these individuals.
The surprising thing is that most of these billionaires come from countries with unique demographics i.e. highly populous regions of Africa fraught with an unstable government and myriads of problems. As a matter of fact, more than half of these business magnates come from the same country in West Africa- Nigeria. From the well-known Aliko Dangote with a net worth of $12.4Billion to the relatively unknown female billionaire, Folorunsho Alakija whose estimated net worth is $1.8Billion. Two come from South Africa- Patrice Motsepe ($1.7Billion) and Stephen B. Saad ($1.19Billion)- one from East Africa such as Mohammed Dewji ($1.4Billion) and the rest are interspersed from North and Central Africa.
Furthermore, the common theme among these billionaires is the extent of their education. For instance, Mohammed Ibrahim of Sudan holds a Degree and a Masters in Electrical and Electronics Engineering as well as a Ph.D. in Mobile Communications and is the brainchild behind Celtel. He has an estimated net worth of $1.8 Billion. Nearly all the billionaires mentioned in the book have a degree in their respective fields. The author also highlights the importance of philanthropy among these individuals who have created foundations to channel their resources to help their fellow Africans i.e. Tony Elumelu.
The major drawback of the book is the lack of references in case one would want to research further on these individuals. Nonetheless, the simple language used in penning down the book makes it appealing to most readers who would be interested in finding out the inspiring stories of these dollar billionaires.