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The 10 largest charitable gifts made by African billionaires in the past decade

The year 2020 was record-breaking for African philanthropy. 



South African billionaire Jannie Mouton.

The year 2020 was record-breaking for African philanthropy. 

As COVID-19 swept across the globe, African billionaires and ultra-high net-worth individuals donated hundreds of millions of dollars to the fight against the pandemic. 

From Algeria to Nigeria to Zimbabwe, Africa’s richest people stood up to join this fight by making unprecedented donations. Some of the better-known acts of philanthropy include: Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris and his family donated $6 million; In Nigeria, Africa’s wealthiest man Aliko Dangote donated NGN 2 billion (approximately $5 million at the time); His fellow Nigerian billionaires Mike Adenuga and Femi Otedola donated N1 billion ($2.5 million) each; In Tanzania, Rostam Aziz – one of the country’s richest men – donated $430,000 in equipment and supplies to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in public places; and, Kenyan steel tycoon Narendra Raval donated $1 million.

But it was the South Africans who stole the show.  Four South African billionaires – Johann Rupert, Nicky Oppenheimer, Mary Oppenheimer-Slack and Patrice Motsepe – each donated R1 billion (about $57 million at the time) to fight the spread of the virus in South Africa and to support businesses and individuals whose livelihood was affected. These gifts, along with several others, were among the largest charitable donations made by African billionaires over the past decade.

Billionaires.Africa tallied the biggest reported charitable gifts and pledges made by African billionaires between 2011 and 2021 to come up with a list of the 10 largest.

Note: These are the individuals who made the largest lump-sum donations in the past decade — not necessarily the ones who donated the most throughout the year.

1. In February 2019, Zimbabwe’s richest man Strive Masiyiwa and his wife Tsitsi pledged $100 million to establish the Masiyiwa Rural Challenge fund. Over a period of five years, the $100 million will be disbursed as loans to young Zimbabwean rural entrepreneurs and rural-focused ventures through Steward Bank, a Zimbabwean-based commercial bank that is controlled by the Masiyiwa family. The minimum loan will be $1,000, while the maximum will be $10,000. The loans will require no collateral and the maximum interest rate will be five percent. Repayments will be channelled into a revolving fund to absorb as many rural entrepreneurs as possible.

2. In August 2017, South African billionaire Jannie Mouton, the founder of PSG Group, donated $82 million worth of PSG Group shares to his personal charity, the Jannie Mouton Foundation. The Jannie Mouton Foundation engages in developmental activities and funds non-profit organizations that facilitate positive social change through education, training and skills development.

3. In March 2020, South African billionaire Nicky Oppenheimer and his son, Jonathan, donated R1 billion ($57 million) through their Oppenheimer Generations Foundation to establish the South African Future Trust (SA Future Trust). The SA Future Trust supported small businesses throughout the COVID-19 crisis by providing direct financial support to businesses so that their employees could continue to receive an income through the lockdown period of 2020. As a going concern, the SA Future Trust will support initiatives with a focus on employment creation. SA Future Trust will cease operations once all funds are disbursed, and no later than Dec. 31, 2040.

4. In March 2020, South African billionaire Johann Rupert made a donation of R1 billion ($57 million) to a solidarity fund set up by President Cyril Ramaphosa to provide financial assistance and aid to small and medium enterprises and employees negatively affected by the pandemic.

5. Mary Oppenheimer, a sister to Nicky Oppenheimer, also donated R1 billion ($57 million) to the Solidarity Fund established by President Ramphosa to mitigate the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic on the country’s most vulnerable communities.

6. Patrice Motsepe donated R1 billion ($57 million) as well in March 2020 to help fight COVID-19. At the time, Motsepe said the money would be channelled through the government to improve access to water, health and educational facilities. In the medium term, the funds will be used to build additional classrooms, computer centres and laboratories in South Africa to reduce overcrowding in classrooms.

7. Douw Steyn, a South African real estate tycoon and owner of Saxon Hotel, pledged a donation of R320 million ($21.7 million) in April 2020 to assist coronavirus relief efforts in South Africa. The bulk of the money will be channelled toward supporting feeding schemes in low-income areas in the country.

8. In September 2019, Aliko Dangote donated $20 million to the Africa Center in New York. The Africa Center is a New York-based non-profit institution focused on challenging historical stereotypes around the African continent and a hub for creating an intersection of African policy, business and culture, and recreating narratives about Africa’s economic and cultural significance today and in the future.

9. In November 2019, Femi Otedola, one of Nigeria’s richest men, donated NGN5 billion (about $14 million at the time) to the Save the Children Fund through his daughter, DJ Cuppy’s Foundation, to support intervention programmes for destitute children in Nigeria’s northeastern region. Otedola is the owner and chairman of Geregu Power PLC, one of Nigeria’s largest utility companies.

10. In May 2021, Nigerian billionaire Abdul Samad Rabiu gave a N5-billion ($11.9 million) grant to support health and social development programs in Akwa Ibom State. Earlier, in April 2021, the Nigerian cement and sugar tycoon announced the launch of the Abdul Samad Rabiu Initiative, which will commit $100 million every year to initiatives in education, health and social development across Africa.

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Abu Dhabi-based Chimera acquires controlling stake in financial services provider linked to Egypt’s richest family

It is unclear how much of the 59.22 percent stake held by Orascom Financial Holding, a firm led by the billionaire Sawiris family, was acquired during the transaction.



Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris

Chimera Investment, an Abu Dhabi-based firm led by Pakistani businessman Syed Basar Shueb, has announced the purchase of a majority stake in Beltone Financial Holding SAE, a Cairo-based financial services firm partially owned by Egypt’s richest family, the Sawiris.

According to a press release issued by the Abu Dhabi-based firm, a total of 55.9 percent of Beltone’s shareholding was acquired at a price of EGP1.485 ($0.0779) per share, bringing the total transaction value to EGP370 million ($19.3 million).

It is unclear how much of the 59.22-percent stake held by Orascom Financial Holding, a firm led by the Egyptian billionaire Sawiris family, was acquired during the share-purchase transaction. However, it is clear that Chimera is now the majority shareholder in Beltone as a result of the recent deal.

Syed Basar Shueb, chairman of Chimera Investment, commented on the transaction, stating that it aligns with Chimera’s broader strategy of long-term value creation investments and expands the company’s presence in regional economies.

He went on to state that, in the coming months, the Abu Dhabi-based firm will look to unlock value and implement an all-encompassing transformation plan aimed at restoring Beltone’s growth and profitability.

In addition to the transaction, Dalia Khorshid, the chairwoman and CEO of MASAR Financial Advisory, a regional financial advisory firm, was appointed as the new CEO of Beltone, as the Egyptian firm enters a new phase of growth under new management.

“I am honored by the opportunity to lead Beltone’s strategic transformation plan,” Khorshid said in response to her recent appointment as CEO. “I am confident that we will restructure and grow this institution to become a major market leader in the region and a solid platform for attracting international investments into our host markets.”

Beltone, a financial services provider in Egypt and the Middle East and North Africa, was founded in 2006 to provide brokerage, investment banking, asset management, equity research, and a variety of non-banking financial services like leasing, consumer finance, and venture capital platforms.

In a $1.3-million deal nearly a year ago, Orascom Financial Holding, led by Egypt’s Sawiris family, reduced its stake in Beltone to 59.22 from 61.24 percent.

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Ardova dismisses winding-up order, as Femi Otedola’s Zenon serves majority shareholder petition over $6-million debt

The once promising relationship between Otedola’s Zenon and Abdulwasiu Sowami’s Prudent Energy has taken a new turn.



Femi Otedola. ©Billionaires.Africa

Arodva Plc, a Nigerian oil and gas marketing company majority owned by Nigerian businessman Abdulwasiu Sowami, has denied reports that it is facing a winding-up petition over a $6-million debt owed to Zenon Petroleum & Gas Limited, an oil company founded by billionaire businessman Femi Otedola.

The news comes as the once promising relationship between Otedola’s Zenon and Sowami’s Prudent Energy, Ardova’s majority shareholder, takes a new turn over the debt.

The oil company stated in a press release on Tuesday that its management’s attention has been drawn to recent media claims regarding the debt, and it is critical to set the record straight that no winding-up petitions are presently facing the company in relation to the 2019 transaction.

The company went on to state that the current issues are related to claims and warranties made under a share-purchase agreement between Prudent Energy and Zenon for the purchase of shares in Forte Oil Plc in a $200-million deal in 2019.

The management went on to state that Ardova is not party to any of the proceedings, that the proceedings have no bearing on the company’s rights or operations, and that it has no claims against its assets.

Zenon, which has a guarantee for the prompt payment of the debt, served Prudent Energy with a petition earlier this week, more than a month after the deferred consideration, which was due on June 18, had yet to be paid despite demand letters sent to Sowami.

Experts believe that the dispute will reignite debate over Ardova’s share ownership structure.

The $6-million debt, which represents the remaining purchase consideration for the Forte Oil stake, adds to Prudent Energy’s pressures, as shares in Ardova, the company that it acquired nearly three years ago, have fallen significantly from an average price of N23.6 ($0.055) per share in 2019 to N13 ($0.0305) per share at the time of writing this report.

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Nigerian billionaire Abdul Samad Rabiu and son receive $151.6 million in dividends from food business

Just three weeks ago, the Nigerian billionaire received a massive $208-million dividend from BUA Cement.



Abdul Samad Rabiu. ©Billionaires.Africa

Nigerian billionaire industrialist Abdul Samad Rabiu and his son received a N62.9-billion ($151.6 million) dividend from his stake in BUA Foods Plc, his newly consolidated food conglomerate that maintains active operations in the food and agro-allied industries.

This comes nearly three weeks after the billionaire received a massive N86.5-billion ($208 million) dividend from his cement company, BUA Cement Plc, as part of cash rewards paid to shareholders.

The $151.6-million dividend, which was electronically deposited into his bank account on Thurs., Aug. 4, represents the majority of the N152-billion ($63 million) final dividend distribution approved by BUA Cement shareholders at the group’s annual general meeting.

With the recent payout from his consolidated food business, Rabiu, who has a $5.8-billion net worth, has now received a total dividend of $359.6 million from his publicly traded businesses this year, which is significantly more than the $157 million that he received last year.

BUA Foods’ multimillion-dollar dividend is the company’s first dividend payment since its shares were listed earlier this year on Jan. 5. The cash reward that shareholders received can be attributed to the company’s stellar performance during its 2021 fiscal year.

According to the group’s financial statement, which represents its first annual report since its shares were listed on the Nigerian Exchange over three months ago, BUA Foods’ profit rose by 97.05 percent, from N35.41 billion ($85.2 million) in 2020 to N69.76 billion ($167.84 million) in 2021.

Despite a decrease in its fortified sugar sales, BUA Foods reported a 13.72-percent increase in profit in the first half of 2022, owing to an 11.3-percent increase in revenue from N151.73 billion ($364.4 million) to N168.85 billion ($405.5 million).

Revenue growth was driven by higher non-fortified sugar and flour sales, which offset lower fortified sugar sales during the period under review.

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