Friday, 22 April 2011

The 20 Most Powerful People in African Business 2011 by Forbes Magazine

Africa means business. The past decade has seen an enormous number of mega-corporations emerge on the continent. However, a vast number of these companies are run by foreigners. For example, SABMiller, the world’s second largest beverages maker, is led by CEO Graham Mackay, an American. The head of AngloGold Ashanti (AU), the world’s largest gold producer, is Mark Cutifani, an Australian national. Safaricom, East Africa’s largest telecoms provider, is run by Bob Collymore, a Guyanese.

However, a new league of African businessmen is emerging. They are bold and fearlessly ambitious, building pan-African companies with regional and even global presences. They are influencers and change-makers. Their voices are never ignored within Africa’s business and political circles, and through their resolutions and actions, they shape the economic future of the continent. Here are the 20 most powerful men in African business:

Marius Kloppers
Nationality: South African
Job: C.E.O BHP Billiton
The world’s largest mining company, BHP Billiton (BBL) has ridden the crest of the biggest commodities boom in recent times. The company is set to announce a pre-tax profit of $30 billion in June, the largest in recent British corporate history. Kloppers spearheaded it all. His biggest problem: How to spend the money. Possible solutions: Massive share buy-back, strategic acquisitions, or increased dividend payout to shareholders.
Kloppers earned his MBA at INSEAD; worked at Sasol (SSL), Mintek and McKinsey & Co before joining Billiton in 1993. He became C.E.O in 2007.

Jacko Maree
Nationality: South African
Job: C.E.O, Standard Bank Group
The former Rhodes Scholar sits at the helm of affairs at Standard Bank Group, Africa’s largest financial services conglomerate. The $26 billion (market cap) group operates in 33 countries (17 are in Africa). He led the bank through its aggressive global expansion, making key acquisitions in Turkey, Russia, Argentina and Jersey.
Maree currently serves as chairman of The Banking Association (S.A.) and is a former director of the International Monetary Conference.

Patrick Davies
Nationality: South African
Job: CEO, Sasol
Patrick Davies is CEO of Sasol (SSL), Africa’s largest energy company, headquartered in South Africa. The $34 billion (market cap) company is the continent’s leader in the commercial production and marketing of chemicals and liquid fuels. It is rapidly expanding into oil and gas exploration.
Davies is credited with driving the internationalization of Sasol’s gas-to-liquids technology. He has a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Natal, South Africa.

Nicky Oppenheimer
Nationality: South African
Job: Chairman, De Beers Group
Oppenheimer, an Oxford grad and South Africa’s richest man, chairs De Beers Group, the world’s largest diamond producer, as well as its subsidiary, The Diamond Trading Company. He sold nearly 8% of his stake in AngloAmerican, the mining giant founded by his grandfather Ernest Oppenheimer in 1917. Now owns 2%. The passionate environmental conservationist owns the Tswalu Kalahari Reserve, the largest private game reserve in South Africa. Avid cricketer.

Sifiso Dabengwa
Nationality: Zimbabwe
Job: CEO, MTN Group
Big job ahead: Sifiso Dabengwa was recently appointed the Group Chief Executive of MTN, Africa’s largest telecommunications firm. Company boasts 118 million subscribers in 21 countries. He has held several strategic managerial posts in the company, at one point manning the company’s Nigerian operations, its most profitable market. Prior to joining MTN, Dabengwa worked at South African electricity generator Eskom. Trained electrical engineer has an MBA from the University of Witwatersrand.

Cyril Ramaphosa
Nationality: South African
Job: Chairman, Shanduka Group, MTN
One of South Africa’s most respected business and political figures. In 2007, he was named by Time Magazine as one of the world’s most influential people. A renowned boardroom guru, he chairs the board of telecoms giant MTN and serves on the board of Standard Chartered Bank. He is the founder and Executive Chairman of Shanduka Group, a pioneering Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) Investment Holding company with substantial interests in energy, financial services, natural resources and property. Recently acquired the South African operations of American fast food giant, McDonald’s (MCD).

Aliko Dangote
Nationality: Nigerian
Job: President, Dangote Group
The former commodities trader is now a billionaire who heads the Dangote Group, a conglomerate with interests in sugar, flour and cement. Crown jewel: $12 billion (market cap) Dangote Cement. Already the continent’s largest cement manufacturer, the company plans to list on the London Stock Exchange before the end of the year. But investors are skeptical. The company’s stock is down 15% since listing on the Nigerian Stock Exchange last year; yet to bounce back to IPO price. Dangote is a major financier of Nigeria’s ruling People’s Democratic Party.

Koos Bekker
Nationality: South African
Job: CEO, Naspers
South African media mogul is CEO of Naspers, Africa’s largest media conglomerate; also its biggest individual shareholder. The $12 billion (market capitalization) company owns stake in pay-TV giant DSTV; Russian Internet company; Brazilian publisher Abril and Chinese Internet service provider Tencent. He was also a founding director of MTN and served on the local organizing committee for the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup. Also serves on the council of Stellenbosch University, his alma mater. Chief executive of Naspers since 1997.

Abdeslam Ahizoune
Nationality: Moroccan
Job: Chairman & CEO, Maroc Telecom
The Moroccan is the chief executive of Maroc Telecoms, one of the continent’s largest telecommunication companies (owned by French media giant Vivendi). Prior to the appointment, he was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Medi1Sat, the Moroccan television channel now called Medi 1 TV. Still remains a Director. He holds an engineering degree from Telecom ParisTech (1977) and was appointed the chairman of the Moroccan Association of Telecom Professionals (MATI) in 2008. He serves as the President of the Royal Moroccan Athletic Federation.

Onsi Sawiris
Nationality: Egyptian
Job: founder, Orascom Group
Legendary patriarch of Egypt’s most powerful business dynasty. The Orascom Group which he founded has interests in telecoms, hotels and construction. The companies are all run by his three sons- Naguib, Samih and Nassef–all billionaires like Onsi.

Naguib Sawiris
Nationality: Egyptian
Job: CEO, Orascom Telecom Holding
Call him the ‘Peacemaker.’ After being a vocal critic of Mubarak regime, the Egyptian telecoms billionaire and eldest son of Onsi Sawiris offered to act as a mediator between the government and the opposition in implementing political reforms after Hosni Mubarak stepped down. Naguib heads Orascom Telecom Holding, which owns massive stakes mobile service operators across Middle East, Africa, South Asia, Europe and Canada.

Patrice Motsepe
Nationality: South African
Job: Chairman, African Rainbow Minerals
South Africa’s first black billionaire is Executive Chairman at African Rainbow Minerals Limited (ARM), a leading diversified mining and minerals company, based in Johannesburg. He is also the non-executive Chairman of Harmony and the Deputy Chairman of listed financial services firm, Sanlam. Ardent soccer fan owns South-Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns Football Club.

Wale Tinubu
Nationality: Nigerian
Job: C.E.O Oando
Trained lawyer bought up Unipetrol, a floundering government-owned petroleum marketing company; transformed into Oando, Nigeria’s largest indigenous integrated energy services provider; active in various West African countries. Oando was the first Nigerian company to achieve a cross-listing on the Nigerian and Johannesburg stock exchanges. Big ambitions: Looking to create Africa’s first oil major. Tinubu serves as co-chair of the World Economic Forum in Africa. Alumnus of the London School of Economics.

Naushad Merali
Nationality: Kenyan
Job: Chairman, Sameer Group
The reclusive Indian-Kenyan is one of East Africa’s most revered businessmen and dealmakers. He heads the Sameer Group – a $2 billion privately held conglomerate with interests in construction, engineering, energy, finance, transportation and software. Also chairs Bharti Airtel’s operations in Kenya. Has close links with country’s president, Mwai Kibaki.

Strive Masiyiwa
Nationality: Zimbabwe
Job: Chairman, Econet Group
The Zimbabwean telecoms visionary founded Econet Wireless, one of the pioneering providers of mobile phone services in Africa. Now seeking expansion outside Africa; company owns a 3G license in New Zealand. He also serves on the Board of Trustees at the Rockefeller foundation.

Reginald Mengi
Nationality: Tanzania
Job: Chairman, IPP Group
Mengi is one of Africa’s most powerful media barons. Started out as an accountant; made first millions manufacturing ballpoint pens and selling them to big retailers. Today, he heads IPP Group, a diversified media conglomerate active in East Africa. Assets include 9 newspapers, 2 television stations and 3 radio stations. Also owns a Coca-Cola bottling plant in Dar-es Salaam.

James Mwangi
Nationality: Kenyan
Job: CEO, Equity Bank
Charismatic Kenyan banker turned around a moribund microfinance company into East Africa’s largest financial services provider. Equity bank now serves millions of customers all over East Africa. Remains largest individual shareholder. Represents Africa in the presidency of the Global Economic Network and also serves as an advisor to the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) on commercialization of microfinance in Africa. Member of the Clinton Global Initiative.

Sam Jonah
Nationality: Ghanaian
Job: Executive Chairman, Jonah Capital
The former president of AngloGold Ashanti was instrumental in transforming the mining company into a multinational corporation; increased gold production from 240,000 ounces per annum to over 1.6 million ounces in ten years. Also spearheaded company’s listing as the first African company on the New York Stock Exchange. Currently serves as CEO of Jonah Capital, a South African based investment holding company. Jonah, a prominent boardroom guru seats on the board of several companies including Transnet, ArcelorMittal SA (MT), and the Standard Bank Group.

Chris Kirubi
Nationality: Kenya
Designation: Chairman, Haco Tiger Industries
One of the most vocal advocates for trade and economic reforms in East-Africa, Chris Kirubi founded privately-held Haco Tiger Industries, the region’s largest manufacturer of household consumer goods. Other assets include Kenya’s landmark International House building; largest shareholding in Centum, a Nairobi Stock Exchange-listed investment firm with interests in everything from insurance to Coca-Cola bottling plants, telecoms and energy. INSEAD alumnus.

Donald Kaberuka
Nationality: Rwandan
Job: President, African Development Bank
The Rwandese economist is the current President of the African Development Bank. The 78 country-member financial institution provides loans and grants to African governments and private companies operating within the regional member countries in Africa. ADB commits at least $3 billion to African governments annually. Kaberuka has a PhD in economics from Glasgow University, Scotland.


***I thank God for Sam Jonah’s life because I was beginning to think that there were no Ghanaians on the list. Honestly, I know we Ghanaians are very private, and know from personal experience that its very possible to sit next to a Ghanaian millionaire and be non the wiser -but I’m guessing that the real reason theres only one Ghanaian on this list, -is because we are not very good at expanding/exporting our businesses to other African countries, -never mind globally.

I’m sooo not surprise, as from my little experience working with Ghanaian businesses/talents/services via my Ghana Rising Blog, I’ve learnt that we Ghanaians can be very lazy. Emails from individuals/buinesses comprising only two lines about their products/services/talent and a link to their YouTube accounts or Facebook pages -demanding that I do the research and write about them/their products/talents etc, -without so much as a website or blog or whatever! Some have even used what I have written, copied and pasted it -without a thank you unto their facebook pages, -personally, I find this cheap, tacky and sad. You just can’t do business like this. I’ve also found that many Ghana based businesses are happy to just sit in their shops/kiosks/whatever and wait for passing trade -and have no idea that the world has become a smaller place, a global village even, and websites are not only essential but are now shop windows unto world. So now your customers are not only your neighbours or Pa Kwesi in Tema but Mrs X who is looking forward to her first trip to Accra/Ghana next week.

Ghana based businesses also seem happy/content with so little trade, -and know nothing of promoting their wares beyond their regular customers. This will only breed mediocre businesses that are only patronised by a limited clientele or the few locals who know of its existence.

Lets do our research and really up our game -and promote our businesses not just locally but globally…Paulina Opoku-Gyimah


  1. This is so true. very sad but true. I admire the way you write

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