African billionaires who have transformed football into a bigger business in Africa

Abu Mubarik February 08, 2024
Patrice Motsepe. Photo via Twitter/CAF

Often, when the businesses of billionaires are profiled, their interests in sports are not given prominence. And in situations where their sports interest is mentioned, it is sometimes a one-sentence acknowledgment.

In Africa, out of the top 20 billionaires, two are heavily involved in football and they are Patrice Motsepe of South Africa and Mohammed Dewji of Tanzania. Motsepe is the current President of the Confederation of African Football (Caf) with an estimated net worth of $2.6 billion. Dewji, on the other hand, who became Africa’s youngest billionaire, has a net worth of $1.8 billion.

Motsepe’s interest in football can be traced to his investment in South Africa Premier League side Mamelodi Sundowns. The billionaire is the bankroller and founder of Sundowns, which play in South Africa’s elite league and are one-time champion of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Champions League.

Sundowns have won six successive league titles, largely thanks to Motsepe’s investment. The South African national football team, Bafana Bafana, had 11 players from the Sundowns at the Africa Cup of Nations tournament. Local media even reported that Sundowns signed an Argentinian player for $47 million.

Dewji, at the age of 48, became the youngest billionaire in Africa. His rise to the top in the entrepreneurship space is no coincidence. Dewji comes from a family of entrepreneurs; his grandmother operated a trading shop in Tanzania’s central region, selling sugar, rice, matchboxes, and spices, among other things from her modest residence, which was made from mud and sand.

Dewji returned to Tanzania after completing his education in the United States. He also had a stint on Wall Street before returning home to take over his family’s trading business. After taking charge of the family business, he changed the nature of the company’s operations by moving it away from predominantly trading to manufacturing.

He has built MeTL into one of the formidable industrial groups, not only in Tanzania but in Africa at large. The company manufactures everything from edible oils and detergents to soft drinks and pasta.

Like Motsepe, Dewji runs one of Africa’s most successful clubs. Nicknamed Mo, he runs Simba SC as the majority shareholder. The professional football club is based in Kariakoo ward in Ilala District of Dar es Salaam Region in Tanzania. It was founded in 1936 as Queen before it changed to Sunderland and in 1971 it was finally renamed Simba. Competitive in Caf competitions, it is now one of the biggest clubs in East Africa under the leadership of Dewji.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: February 8, 2024


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