Home » 10 companies owned by Africa’s youngest billionaire, Mohammed Dewji

10 companies owned by Africa’s youngest billionaire, Mohammed Dewji

by Feyisayo Ajayi
Mohammed Dewji

Tanzanian businessman Mohammed Dewji is the youngest person in Africa to lay claim to a billion-dollar fortune. Dewji, the CEO of Mohammed Enterprises Tanzania Limited (MeTL), the country’s largest conglomerate, was named a U.S-dollar billionaire in 2015 by Forbes Magazine. He was only 40 years old at the time.

Today, at 48, Dewji is still Africa’s youngest billionaire. With a fortune pegged at $1.5 billion, he is the wealthiest man in East Africa.

Dewji, who is popularly referred to as “Mo,” is the third generation of a family of Tanzanian entrepreneurs. His grandmother owned a small trading shop from her home in Singida, a sleepy town in Tanzania’s central region. She peddled everything from sugar and rice to matchboxes and spices from her modest residence, which was made from mud and sand.

His father, Gulam Dewji, would soon take over the business but adopted a more aggressive approach. He began importing soft commodities into Tanzania using family savings and credit facilities. By the mid-1970s, he had turned his mother’s shop into a thriving import-export business.

After he finished his education in the United States and enjoyed a brief stint on Wall Street, Mohammed Dewji returned to Tanzania and took over his family’s trading business. Dissatisfied with the razor-thin margins on his family’s commodities, he pivoted the company’s operations from predominantly trading into manufacturing.

Today, MeTL Group is one of Tanzania’s largest industrial groups, manufacturing everything from edible oils and detergents to soft drinks and pasta. It also has significant operations in agriculture, haulage, and port services. The group contributes three percent of Tanzania’s GDP, has annual revenues of more than $1 billion, and employs over 20,000 people across East and Southern Africa.

Billionaires.Africa looks at ten of the most significant assets in Mohammed Dewji’s portfolio.

  1. 21st Century Textiles Limited: This subsidiary of MeTL is one of the largest composite textile mills in Sub-Saharan Africa. Located in Morogoro, Tanzania, it is the country’s leading employer in the textile sector. The facility underwent substantial modernization and expansion, with a $100-million investment between 2006 and 2010. 21st Century Textiles produces high-quality cotton and blended yarns, fabrics, and finished garments.
  2. East Coast Oils and Fats: Tanzania’s largest edible oils company, East Coast Oils, and Fats, operates a state-of-the-art facility near the Dar es Salaam port. The facility includes a refinery, a dry-fractionation plant, and units for manufacturing soap, cooking fat, and margarine. With an annual production capacity of more than 750,000 metric tonnes, it is the largest facility of its kind in Africa.
  3. 21st Century Food and Packaging Limited: This wheat and maize milling factory within MeTL Group has a daily wheat milling capacity of 1,250 metric tonnes and a maize milling capacity of 300 metric tonnes. Their products account for over 25 percent of the local market share, and byproducts are exported internationally for animal feed.
  4. Glenrich Transportation: MeTL’s transport and logistics company provides comprehensive services, including port clearance, root transportation, and third-party logistics. Their fleet consists of over 1,000 vehicles with various carrying capacities.
  5. A-One Products and Bottlers Ltd: As one of Tanzania’s largest beverage manufacturers, A-One Products and Bottlers produce bottled water, fruit juices, sodas, and energy drinks. Their flagship soft drink, Mo Xtra, holds a 70-percent market share in the country’s CSD market.
  6. Royal Soap and Detergent Industries Ltd: This company in Dar es Salaam is Tanzania’s largest detergent manufacturer. Their factory has a significant storage capacity and produces various detergent powder brands.
  7. East Coast Liquid Storage Limited: Operating as an Inland Container Depot and Container Freight Station, this subsidiary offers handling, storage, and logistics services for import and export cargo. They collaborate with Tanzanian authorities to provide customs clearance and port logistics services.
  8. MeTL Agro: MeTL’s agro-business owns sisal plantations, cashew farms, and palm plantations, contributing significantly to Tanzania’s sisal production.
  9. 21st Century Holdings Ltd: This company is responsible for sisal processing operations within the group, manufacturing various sisal products for local and export markets.
  10. Star Oil Tanzania Limited: As a marketer of petroleum products, Star Oil operates a network of retail pump stations and petroleum depots, enabling efficient storage and distribution of petroleum products.

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