Home » They will be missed: The African tycoons and billionaires who passed away in 2021

They will be missed: The African tycoons and billionaires who passed away in 2021

by Mfonobong Nsehe

From an Eritrean tycoon who made a fortune manufacturing breakfast cereals in Nigeria to an Egyptian patriarch who built a conglomerate that made all his sons billionaires — quite a number of ultra high net-worth individuals in Africa passed away in 2021, leaving behind legacies of entrepreneurship and incredible wealth.

In no particular order, these are some of the more prominent people who made the headlines.

Onsi Sawiris

Citizenship: Egypt

The billionaire patriarch of Egypt’s wealthiest family and the founder of Orascom Group passed away on June 29 at the age of 91. The late business magnate was father to billionaires Naguib, Nassef and Samih Sawiris. His sons run the construction, tourism, telecom, technology and industrial wings of Orascom Group.

Ahmed Nasreddin

Citizenship: Eritrea

Ahmed Idris Nasreddin, the Eritrean founder of the Nigeria-based Nasco Group, passed away in May at the age of 97. Nasreddin founded Nasco in Jos, Nigeria, in 1963, as the first jute bag factory in Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa. Over five decades, he built Nasco into a large conglomerate famed for being one of the largest producers of breakfast cereals, biscuits and other consumer products in Africa. His eldest son, Attia Nasreddin, now calls the shots.

Chris Kirubi

Citizenship: Kenya

Kenyan industrialist Christopher Kirubi died at the age of 79 on June 14 after a protracted battle with cancer. Kirubi had suffered from the illness since 2017. Before his death, he was also the largest shareholder in Centum Limited, a Nairobi Stock Exchange-listed investment firm, holding a 39-percent stake. He also owned Capital Group, a media group and the parent company of Nairobi’s popular Capital FM and Haco Industries, a manufacturer of consumer goods.

Naushad Merali

Citizenship: Kenya

The Kenyan tycoon died in the early hours of July 3 while undergoing treatment for an undisclosed ailment at the Nairobi Hospital. Until his death, Merali was the chairman of Sameer Group, a Kenyan conglomerate with interests in agriculture, construction, information technology, property and finance.

Hosa Okunbo

Citizenship: Nigeria

Nigerian billionaire Idahosa Wells Okunbo died on Aug. 8 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. Okunbo played seminal roles in successful companies and businesses in Nigeria, including CMES-OMS Petroleum Development, Wells Carlton Hotel and Apartments in Abuja, the capital city of Nigeria, and Wells San-Carlos Agro Farms Limited, which opened a $750-million, 9,000-hectare farm in Edo in March 2016.

Sani Dangote

Citizenship: Nigeria

Sani Dangote, a younger brother to Africa’s wealthiest man, Aliko Dangote, served as the vice chairman of Dangote Group, Africa’s most diversified manufacturing conglomerate, before he died on Nov. 14 after a brief illness. The late industrialist was also the founder and chairman of Dansa Holdings, a Lagos-based investment holding with investments and operations in fruit and vegetable conservation and specialty food manufacturing. One of its subsidiaries, Dansa Foods, a beverage manufacturing company, operates as a member of Dangote Group.

El-Hadj Faraj Ahmed Abri

Citizenship: Tanzania

El-Hadj Faraj Ahmed Abri, the Tanzanian businessman and founder of Asas Group, died on Aug. 13 in Dar es Salaam. ASAS Group, which was formed in 1978, is one of the oldest and largest business groups in Tanzania, with divisions in transportation, dairy, real estate and fuel distribution.

Mahmoud Elaraby

Citizenship: Egypt

In early September, the revered Egyptian business tycoon Mahmoud Al-Araby passed away at the age of 89. He was the co-founder of Al-Araby Group, a pioneer in the manufacturing and marketing of electrical products, such as televisions and audio systems, home appliances, air conditioners and lighting products.

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