Egypt’s billionaires are still in powerBy LEE MWITI | Monday, March 14 2011 at 15:45
Forget what you have been hearing in the Press; Egypt is still the place to be, at least when it comes to investment.
At the twilight of former President Hosni Mubarak’s reign, rumours frantically did the rounds to the effect that the family name was worth up to a staggering $70 billion.
While this may never be confirmed, this figure would have landed the family right at the top of the world’s rich list, currently headed by Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim.
Mr Slim, a telco magnate among other things, is worth $74 billion according to the latest annual ranking by Forbes magazine.
But here’s the interesting part. Africa has, at 14, an almost insignificant (1.2 per cent actually) share of the world’s 1,210 confirmed billionaires, but eight of these hold Egyptian citizenship.
The others are four South Africans and two Nigerians. This is in itself an improved showing—last year, there were only 10 Africans on the list.
The Sawiris family, better associated with the Orascom conglomerate brand, reigns supreme, making up half of the Egyptian list. The three sons—Samih, Naguib and Nassef and patriarch Onsi are worth a combined $13.4 billion.
Naguib was quite vocal in the revolution, calling for Mubarak to step down.
The Mansour family, synonymous with selling GM vehicles, lends three brothers to the list, including debutant and youngest brother Mohamed. Each has their own billion-dollar income, with their combined value the small matter of $5.6 billion.
Mohamed Al Fayed, who came into the limelight with the death of his son Dodi along with Princess Diana in 1997, rounds off the African and Egyptian list with an estimated $1.2 billion, minted mainly in the retail sector. (He also owns Fulham, an English Premier League football club).
The overriding reason for the anti-Mubarak agitation was an increasingly unbearable economic environment. It would seem that having a few billionaires and millions of not-so-rich Egyptians is an unhealthy mix.
The thing is, while still early days, little damage by the Egyptian revolution appears to have been visited upon the fortunes of these citizens. A billion dollars really is a lot of dough.
In case you are wondering, the richest African is Nigerian Aliko Dangote, worth an estimated $13.8 billion and rankled 51st in the world.
Mr Dangote, a prominent ruling party benefactor, owns the biggest cement firm in Africa, while also straddling the country’s sugar market.
For his 45th birthday, the Kano State-born trader is reputed to have indulged himself a Bombardier aircraft worth $45 million.
This figure is equivalent to Sierra Leone’s combined 2011 budget for education, health, sports and youth activities.
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