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January 23, 2019

Vimal Shah ranked at position 18 among Africa's 50 richest

RICHEST KENYAN? Bidco Oil CEO Vimal Shah.
RICHEST KENYAN? Bidco Oil CEO Vimal Shah.

Barely a month after Vimal Shah was ranked as the richest Kenyan by New World Wealth, the consumer goods magnate has been ranked as among the wealthiest African by Forbes Magazine.

Shah has been ranked among the top 50 richest in Africa coming at number 18 placing him as the richest Kenyan in a list that has this time avoided naming President Kenyatta's family and businessman Chris Kirubi. Shah, together with his family control a fortune of over Sh137.6 billion ($1.6 billion), according to Forbes.

Shah is the CEO of Bidco Oil Refineries, the largest manufacturer of edible oils in East and Central Africa, and manufactures of detergents, soaps, baking powder and canola, as well as other edible oils. Bidco has a 49 per cent share of the edible oils market in Kenya, according to Forbes. In 1985, Vimal Shah, his father and younger brother started manufacturing soaps and in 2002, they acquired a significant portion of Unilever's edible oil businesses.

The three family members share ownership of the fortune. Bidco grosses over Sh43 billion ($500 million) in annual revenues and its products are manufactured, sold and distributed in 14 countries across Africa. He is also one of the leading investors in Tatu City, a new Sh258 billion ($3 billion) ultra-modern satellite city to be set up on the outskirts of Nairobi. Shah chairs the East African Business Council.

The only other Kenyan appearing on the top 50 richest list is Naushad Merali at number 48 with a Sh36.9 billion ($430 million) fortune. Merali, an Asian-Kenyan tycoon, is the founder of the Sameer Group, a conglomerate with interests in construction, agriculture, information technology, telecom and finance.

Three of his companies - tea and coffee producer Sasini Ltd, battery manufacturer Eveready East Africa and tyre maker Sameer Africa - are listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange. He also serves as chairman of mobile phone company Bharti Airtel's Kenya operations. The Sameer Group is named after his first son, Sameer Merali, who serves as an executive director for the group and is widely believed to be the heir apparent.

According to Forbes, Africa's billionaire top list is dominated by Nigerians and South Africans, with Aliko Ndangote topping the list with a net worth of Sh1.7 trillion ($20.8 billion)

South African luxury goods tycoon and South Africa's richest man, Johann Rupert is the second richest African with a fortune of Sh653.6 billion ($7.6 billion).

Ndangote, who wants to set up a major cement plant in Kenya, is said to be looking beyond cement, sugar and flour - the three commodities that built his fortune - to the oil business. In April, he announced Sh774 billion ($9 billion) in financing from a consortium of local and international lenders to construct a private oil refinery, fertilizer and petrochemical complex in Nigeria.

His publicly traded Dangote Cement is also grabbing new markets in Africa, with Sh64.5 billion ($750 million) in new plants planned for Kenya and Niger. He made his first fortune more than three decades ago when he started trading commodities with a loan from his powerful uncle.

SA's Rupert owes his fortune to Swiss-based Compagnie Financiere Richemont, which owns brands including Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Jaeger-LeCoultre and Montblanc. In September, the avid golfer spent Sh344 million ($4 million) on a buffalo bull, used for breeding buffalo for private game reserves. It's an investment that he hopes will pay for itself through sales of its offspring.

Nicky Oppenheimer from South Africa is listed as the third richest African with a fortune of Sh576.2 billion ($6.7 billion) followed by Eqyptian Nassef Sawiris with a net worth of Sh507.4 billion ($5.9 billion). Sawiris runs Orascom Construction Industries, Egypt's most valuable publicly-traded company.

Nigerian Mike Adenuga is listed as the fifth richest African men with a fortune of Sh395.6 billion ($4.6 billion). Adenuga is the founder of Globacom, Nigeria's second-largest mobile phone network, with 24 million subscribers. He also owns Conoil Producing, an oil exploration company which holds the rights to some of Nigeria's most lucrative oil fields. He made his first fortune at age 26 when he returned to Nigeria after studying in the U.S. He took over his mother's sawmill business and distributed lace and Coca-Cola. He made some powerful friends within Nigeria's military and relied on those relationships to corner lucrative state construction contracts.

The only woman appearing on the top 10 rich list is Isabel dos Santos, oldest daughter of Angola's longtime president, Jose Eduardo dos Santos. With a fortune of Sh301 billion ($3.5 billion), she is listed as Africa's richest woman. Though her representatives deny that her holdings have any connection with her father, Forbes research shows that the president has transferred stakes in several companies to his daughter. Holdings in Angola include 25% of Unitel, the largest mobile phone network operator, and a state in Banco BIC. In Portugal she owns 50% of cable TV and Internet firm Zon Optimus and, alongside Portuguese billionaire Americo Amorim, a nearly 7% stake in Portuguese oil and gas firm Galp Energia

Nigeria's first female billionaire, Folorunsho Alakija with a net worth of Sh215 billlion ($2.5 billion) is the only other woman appearing on the top-50 list and is ranked as the 13th richest African. She began her career in the 1970s as a secretary in a Nigerian bank before she quit to study fashion design in England. After returning to Nigeria she founded Supreme Stitches, a fashion label that catered to the country's high society women. Her biggest patron was Maryam Babangida, wife to Nigeria's notorious former military president.

Others appearing on the top 10 rich list include South African retail magnate Christoffel Wiese who sells groceries and furniture through stores owned by listed Shoprite Holdings and Algerian Issad Rebrab who has a thriving food business, Cevital, a producer of sugar, vegetable oil and margarine.

Egyptian Mohamed Mansour and his two brothers, Yasseen and Youssef (also billionaires), are also listed among the top prospering thanks largely to their Mansour Group's Caterpillar tractor and equipment sales in eight African countries and Russia.

Also in the list is Othman Benjelloun, who has interests in banking, insurance, and telecom in Morocco.

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