Home » 5 African millionaires who made a fortune in tobacco

5 African millionaires who made a fortune in tobacco

by Omokolade Ajayi

These five African multimillionaires built enormous wealth from fueling one of the world’s deadliest and riskiest habits and vices – smoking. We can’t recommend tobacco dealing as a path to creating wealth, but these folks found extraordinary success in manufacturing and distributing tobacco products.  

Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa

Nationality: Rwandan

Company: PanAfrican Tobacco Group Holding

Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa founded PanAfrican Tobacco Group Holding in 1978 in Burundi. It is now the largest tobacco manufacturing company owned by an African. It manufactures cigarettes in the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Angola, Uganda, Tanzania, the United Arab Emirates, Nigeria, and South Sudan. Today, the company records over $250 million in annual revenues and employs more than 7,000 people across Africa. Its brands include Supermatch, Forum, Legends, and Yes. 

Simon Rudland

Nationality: Zimbabwean

Company: Gold Leaf Tobacco

Zimbabwean tobacco tycoon Simon Rudland owns Gold Leaf Tobacco, a multinational manufacturer and distributor of the Rudland & George RG cigarette brand. The company manufactures cigarettes in South Africa for both the South African and export markets. Gold Leaf Tobacco is also a full-service contract manufacturer which produces various blends and variants of cigarettes for its clients.

Apollinaire Compaore

Nationality: Burkinabe

Company: SODICOM

Apollinaire Compaore is one of the most successful businessmen in Burkina Faso. He heads the Planor Group, which has interests in insurance, retail, and telecommunications. Through one of Planor Group’s subsidiary companies, SODICOM, he is also the representative of the multinational tobacco company Philip Morris International in Burkina Faso and the sole distributor of their products in the West African country. 

Wilfred Murungi

Nationality: Burkinabe

Company: Mastermind Tobacco Kenya

The late Murungi worked as an engineer at British American Tobacco before quitting and setting up Mastermind Tobacco Kenya in the late 1980s. Mastermind is currently the only indigenous tobacco company in Kenya, with its Headquarters in Nairobi. The company is in eight countries in East, Central, and Southern Africa and is involved in growing tobacco, manufacturing, and cigarette marketing. It manufactures 12 brands of cigarettes, with its most popular brand being “Supermatch.”

Ylias Akbaraly 

Nationality: Madagascan

Company: Focus Madagascar

Madagascar’s richest man is the owner of Sipromad Group, the largest conglomerate in the country. Two of its subsidiary companies, Focus Madagascar and Madagascar Tobacco Network, manufacture the Apache and Paname brand of cigarettes, which are both popular in the island country. 

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