The 61-year-old oil tycoon Folorunsho Alakija dethroned the media mogul after being declared the world’s richest black woman with a net worth of $7.3 billion and is among Africa’s 55 billionaires.
Her story was featured in an article published by pan-African magazine Ventures Africa which reported that Africa has a lot of billionaires resulting in 55 with an average net worth of $2.6 billion and an average age at 65.
Alakija was a fashion design student in London in the 1980’s and returned to Africa and started Supreme Stitches “which became an exclusive label catering to a wealthy clientele including Mariam Babangida, wife of former Nigerian military dictator Ibrahim Babangida,” as reported by the magazine.
Her company earned an oil prospecting license from the Babangida regime in 1993. It later on became OML 127 which is Nigeria’s most prolific oil blocks. The value of her 60 percent stake in the block is between $6.44 billion and $8.3 billion. Alakija did not sell her license but went to a joint venture with an international oil exploration company.
“Alakija fought a court case for more than a decade when a civilian government forcefully awarded itself a 50 percent interest in her company, after the field was confirmed in 2000 to hold reserves in excess of 1 billion barrels. A court last year voided the government’s acquisition and returned the stake to Alakija’s Famfa Oil.”
The company is now being run by Alakija as a family business with her husband and four sons. The world’s richest woman also knows how to give back to her community. She built the Rose of Sharon Foundation to help support widows and orphans in Nigeria.
Nigeria, Africa and Egypt are the countries that dominated the list. Algeria, Angola, Zimbabwe and Swaziland each have only one billionaire. The billionaires were identified in only 10 out of the 53 countries in Africa.
Among the 55 billionaires, 20 are Nigerians, including Alakija and the richest African billionaire Aliko Dangote who is worth $20.2 billion.
Also included in the list are oldest African billionaires such as 84-year-old Kenyan industrialist Manu Chandaria and 84-year-old Egyptian property tycoon Mohammed Al-Fayed. The youngest billionaires are Mohammed Dewji of Tanzania and Nigerian oil trader Igho Sanomi, both 38 years old.