Rabat – The American business magazine Forbes published this month its list of richest billionaires in Africa.
The 2019 Africa’s Billionaires list included Aziz Akhannouch, the Moroccan minister of agriculture and fisheries, ranked 13th and Othman Benjelloun, the CEO of BMCE Bank of Africa, ranked 15th.
Africa’s richest man is Aliko Dangote of Nigeria for the eighth year in a row with an estimated $10.3 billion net worth. Fellow Nigerian Mike Adenuga is the continent’s second richest billionaire with an estimated $9.2 billion of wealth.
South Africa’s diamond heir Nicky Oppenheimer is the third richest man in Africa with a current estimated $7.3 billion net worth, down from $7.7 billion the previous year.
The number of African billionaires for this year reduced to only 20, down from 23 last year due to “plunging stock prices and weaker currencies,” according to Forbes.
“Four people fell off Forbes’ annual list of the continent’s richest since last year while one returned to the ranks after a four-year absence. All but four members of the list have smaller fortunes than a year ago.”
Petroleum is Akhannouch’s main source of wealth
Akhannouch, who is also the president of the Moroccan political party National Rally of Independence (RNI), has an estimated net wealth of $2.1 billion, and a $2.3 billion real-time net worth. Akhannouch’s main source of wealth is petroleum, according to Forbes.
The 58-year-old billionaire is the majority owner of Akwa Group, a multibillion-dollar conglomerate company operating mainly in the oil and gas industry. His father Ahmed Ouldhadj Akhannouch founded the company in 1932, along with his partner Ahmed Wakrim.
Akwa Group’s leading petrol subsidiaries include: Afriquia Gaz, a liquid petroleum gas distributor; Maghreb Oxygene, a provider of industrial and medical gases; and Afriquia SMDC, a filling station operator with over 400 Afriquia Gaz stations.
Akwa also operates in the telecommunications, tourism, hotels, and real estate sectors.
Benjelloun’s FinanceCom to host 200 Chinese companies
Benjelloun, the CEO of one of Morocco’s largest banks, BMCE Bank of Africa, has an estimated net worth of $1.7 billion. BMCE has branches in over 20 African countries, including Senegal, Kenya, and Congo. Banking and insurance are Benjelloun’s main source of wealth.
The 86-year-old businessman took over insurance company RMA Watanya in 1988 and turned it into a leading insurer. His father was a large shareholder in the company.
Benjelloun also acquired a stake in French telecommunications firm Orange, one of the three leading telecommunication companies in Morocco. He acquired the stake through his holding company FinanceCom which operates through its subsidiaries in financial, transport, technology, industrial, insurance, and telecommunications sectors.
According to Forbes, “FinanceCom is part of a project to develop a multibillion-dollar tech city in Tangiers that is expected to host 200 Chinese companies.”
Benjelloun’s BMCE bank is sponsoring the construction of what is set to be the tallest building in Africa, “Mohammed VI Tower,” in Sale, near Rabat. The 250-meter tower will have 55 floors and will cost an estimated MAD 4 billion.
On November 1, 2018, King Mohammed VI inaugurated the launch ceremony of the tower’s construction.