Home » 7 pharma multimillionaires in Africa you should know

7 pharma multimillionaires in Africa you should know

by Feyisayo Ajayi
Stella Okoli

Stephen Saad, the founder of publicly traded Aspen Pharmacare, South Africa’s largest pharmaceuticals maker, was the first African pharma entrepreneur to lay claim to a billion-dollar fortune. In 2013, Forbes listed Saad as one of the world’s richest people, with a net worth of $1 billion. His fortune peaked at $2.1 billion in 2015, but a string of missteps such as allegations of anticompetitive conduct, among other things, have sent Aspen’s stock price wobbling over the years. Saad’s 12.8-percent stake in Aspen is now worth over $ 570 million

However, Saad remains the richest African to have built a fortune in the pharma sector. 

Billionaires.Africa took stock and came up with the names of seven African entrepreneurs who have founded pharmaceutical companies worth at least $50 million or more and still own significant shares in their companies. 

Here are seven multimillionaires in Africa’s pharma sector that you should know. 

Stephen Saad

Citizenship: South Africa

Stephen Saad, 58, founded Aspen Pharmacare, South Africa’s largest pharmaceuticals maker.

The company traded on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and manufactures and markets generic medicines in 150 countries.

Saad is the CEO and head of Aspen’s board.

He and Aspen co-founder Gus Attridge got their first taste in dealmaking in 1999 by purchasing a chain of South African pharmacies before spreading quickly from the coastal city of Durban to international markets.

The company began producing Africa’s first generic antiretroviral drug for HIV in 2003; expansion into infant formula came the following year. U.K. pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline Plc became an equity and distribution partner before selling out in 2016.

Stella Okoli

Nationality: Nigerian

Stella Okoli founded Emzor Pharmaceuticals, a leading pan-African manufacturer and distributor of medical supplies, world-class medicine, and surgical equipment.

Today, the company manufactures over 140 high-quality pharmaceutical products and medical consumables, including analgesics, vitamins, haematinics, antimalarials, antitussives, antibiotics, anti-helminthic, antihistamine, antacids, and cardio-protective drugs.

Lamia Tazi

Nationality: Moroccan

Lamia Tazi is the CEO of Sothema, a pharmaceutical company founded by her late father, Omar Tazi.

Sothema is Morocco’s leading healthcare company, producing about 60 million pharmaceutical units annually and managing a diverse portfolio of 35 global laboratories that develop and sell products to Europe, the Maghreb, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Persian Gulf.

Fidelis Ayebae

Nationality: Nigerian

In 1995, Fidelis Ayebae founded Fidson Healthcare Plc as a local distributor of pharmaceutical products.

Barely a year after, the company started importing its finished medicines – introducing the Ciprotab and Peflotab brands of quinolones.

By July 2002, Fidson set up its first local manufacturing facility and later became the first company in sub-Saharan Africa to manufacture Antiretroviral (ARVs) drugs in March 2005.

Fidson now has four manufacturing facilities in Nigeria, manufacturing and marketing pharmaceutical products for treating infectious, inflammatory, endocrinal, gastrointestinal, immune, metabolic, cardiovascular, oncological, and central nervous system disorders.

The company is listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange with Ayebae and his family as controlling shareholders. 

Palu Dhanani

Citizenship: Kenyan

Palu Dhanani founded Universal Corporation Ltd. in 1996 as a small drugs manufacturer based in Nairobi’s Industrial Area, producing five products.

He has since grown it into a major pharmaceuticals company in Kenya with more than $30 million in annual revenue.

It makes more than 100 drugs that treat HIV and malaria, as well as antipyretics, antibiotics, antifungals, and antivirals.

Emmanuel Katongole

Nationality: Ugandan

In 1997, Emmanuel Katongole co-founded Quality Chemicals Limited to import generic veterinary and human pharmaceuticals from India.

The company formed a joint partnership with Cipla of India in 2004 to establish a pharmaceutical factory in Uganda, and the joint venture was known as Quality Chemical Industries Limited.

In November 2013, Cipla took a majority interest in QCIL, renaming Cipla Quality Chemical Industries Limited.

The company produces drugs to treat malaria, HIV, and Hepatitis B.

In addition, the company is exploring medicine production to help fight non-communicable diseases and cancer. 

Kofi Nsiah-Poku

Nationality: Ghanaian

Pharmacist Kofi Nsiah-Poku is the founder of Kinapharma, which manufactures and markets more than 150 efficacious drugs ranging from generics to over-the-counter and branded ethical products.

Kinapharma is famous for many brands, including Akoma APC, Kwik Action, Magacid, and Rhizin. 

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