5 wealthiest Southern Africans and how they made their money

Abu Mubarik August 10, 2023
Strive Masiyiwa is a Zimbabwean billionaire with an estimated net worth of $2 billion. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Kathi Walther Bouma

With an estimated population of 69 million, Southern Africa is home to some of the wealthiest African businessmen and women. Entrepreneurs from the region have been consistently featured in the Forbes list of wealthiest people in the world. 

Some of the entrepreneurs include South African dou Patrice Motsepe and Johann Rupert as well as Strive Masiyiwa of Zimbabwe.

Below are five of the richest people in Southern Africa:

Patrice Motsepe

Patrice Motsepe, who is South Africa‘s first Black industrialist and billionaire, is the founder and chairman of African Rainbow Minerals, which mines iron ore, manganese ore, alloys, platinum group metals, copper, nickel, and coal. He became a billionaire in 2008 and the first black African on the Forbes list. 

In 1994, the South African became the first Black partner at the law firm Bowman Gilfillan in Johannesburg before starting a mining services contracting business. In 2016, he launched a private equity firm, African Rainbow Capital, to focus on investing in Africa. 

Motsepe, who is the president and owner of the Mamelodi Sundowns Football Club, was elected president of the Confederation of African Football in 2021. He has a reported net worth of $2.7 billion.

Strive Masiyiwa

Strive Masiyiwa is a Zimbabwean billionaire with an estimated net worth of $2 billion. The Zimbabwean is only one of the world’s wealthiest Black billionaires but also Southern Africa’s second-richest Black billionaire.

He has many investments in enterprises and ventures like Econet Global Limited and Liquid Intelligent Technologies, among others, which have contributed to the growth of his net worth. He overcame protracted government opposition to launch the mobile phone network Econet Wireless Zimbabwe in his country of birth in 1998.

Moise Katumbi

Moise Katumbi is a politician, businessman, and football investor from  DR Congo. He was born to a Greek businessman father and a Congolese mother. Regarded as one of DR Congo’s wealthiest men, he is credited with transforming a medium-sized fishing company owned by his family into a string of multi-million dollar businesses in the mining, agriculture, and logistics sectors, according to Forbes.

What is more, he also co-founded  Mining Company Katanga (MCK), which was sold to French logistics giant Necontrans for a reported fee of $130 million. He owns Congolese club side TP Mazembe which has won the CAF Champions League.

Isabel dos Santos

Isabel dos Santos was once named Africa’s richest woman by Forbes. At the time, her net worth was estimated at $3.5 billion. During the period she accumulated much of her wealth, her father was Angola’s longtime former president.

With her dad out of the presidency, dos Santos’ empire, which ranges from oil business to telecommunication, is now a shadow of what it used to be. Her business empire started crumbling when corruption charges were leveled against her by the new Angolan government.

Also, it was reported that her assets were frozen in three different countries, and there was a lawsuit against her in another fourth country claiming hundreds of millions in unpaid debt. As a result, she fell below the billionaire status, per Forbes’ reporting.

She had previously featured in the Forbes 2020 list of billionaires from Africa. However, the 2021 publication did not feature her because she fell below the $1 billion benchmark per the calculation of her wealth.

Forbes calculated her wealth by assuming she has no access and likely little chance to gain back control of the frozen assets—together worth about $1.6 billion if not frozen. Before the latest publication, her estimated worth was $2.2 billion.

Despite the collapse of her businesses, dos Santos is by no means poor. Her homes, yacht, cash, and other assets are estimated at $400 million.

Johann Rupert

Johann Rupert is South Africa’s richest man. He has a net worth of $11.8 billion. Rupert’s main source of wealth comes from luxury goods; he is the chairman of Swiss luxury goods firm Compagnie Financiere Richemont – known for the two top brands, Cartier and Montblanc. The company was formed in 1998 through a spinoff of assets from his father’s company, Rembrandt Group Limited.

He also owns a 7% diversified interest in Remgro and a 25% stake in Reinet, another investment company in Luxembourg.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: August 10, 2023


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