Having someone of African descent making the Forbes Billionaires list is nothing novel anymore. Over the years media mogul Oprah Winfrey has reigned supreme for three years. Other African-American billionaires according to the Forbes list included BET founder, Bob Johnson.
However, it is indeed a novelty and well worth sharing when not one, but two black Africans make the list. The richest black billionaire is now listed as Aliko Dangote of Nigeria. Dangote’s net worth is believed to be at least US$3.3 billion.
There is debate as to whether or not Dangote is in fact Nigeria’s first black billionaire as that honor may well belong now deceased former dictator, Sani Abacha. Nonetheless, Dangote is the first black Nigerian billionaire on record. Dangote built his empire after acquiring a loan from his uncle over 25 years ago. With this capital he built the Dangote Group. His income comes primarily from investment in sugar production, pasta and cement.
South Africa on the other hand has no shortage of billionaires, but 46-year old Patrice Motsepe is the first black South African to become a billionaire. Motsepe who is a self-made billionaire who made his wealth from buying gold mines that were performing below par. He then turned them into profitable enterprises by employment of stringent management practices. His current net worth is set at US$2.4 billion.
Motsepe is also a lawyer by training and is believed to have made good use of the post-Apartheid Black Economic Empowerment laws. Under these laws, all mining entities had to be at least 25 percent owned by blacks.
Of the current 1062 billionaires listed so far for 2008, Dangote and Motsepe are not doing badly at number 334 and 503 respectively.
-Jessica McCurdy Crooks