Nigerian Tycoons Lead Africa’s 50 Richest To Gains In 2014

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Forbes by Kerry Dolan

November 19, 2014

http://www.forbes.com/sites/kerryadolan/2014/11/19/africas-50-richest-2014-worth-a-combined-111-billion-up-nearly-7-percent-from-a-year-ago/2/

For the first time in the four years that FORBES has been tracking Africa’s richest, Nigeria bests South Africa. At the top yet again is cement tycoon Aliko Dangote of Nigeria, joined on the list of Africa’s 50 Richest by 12 other countrymen.  In comparison South Africa claims 11 spots, down from 14 a year ago. Nigeria is showing its strength, having earned commendations for its efforts to snuff out Ebola in the country, which Dangote helped fund — and despite a recent drop in oil prices.

There are three new billionaires on the list: Orji Uzor Kalu of Nigeria, Tony Elumelu of Nigeria and King Mohammed VI of Morocco.  Three billionaires on last year’s list are no longer members of the 10-figure club: Vimal Shah of Kenya is off the list, replaced by his father Bhimji Depar Shah at a lower net worth. Abdulsamad Rabiu of Nigeria dropped below $1 billion due to ceased operations at his floating cement terminal in Nigeria. And South African mining mogul Desmond Sacco dropped to a net worth of $680 million, down from $1.4 billion last year, because of a sharp decline in the share price of his mining firm Assore Group. The net result: the number of billionaires on the list stayed steady with 2013 at 27.

Africa’s 50 richest are, as a whole, wealthier than a year ago. Their combined net worth of $110.7 billion is 6.7% more than in November 2013. The minimum net worth needed to join this elite group rose to $510 million, up from $400 million a year ago.

Behind Aliko Dangote at number one with a fortune of $21.6 billion, comes South African luxury goods magnate Johann Rupert, number two for the second year in a row, worth an estimated $7.3 billion. His Compagnie Financiere Richemont has a stable of luxury brands including Cartier, Montblanc and fashion house Azzedine Alaia.

Six newcomers join the list of richest Africans, including the above mentioned new billionaires, as well as Ali Wakrim of Morocco and Ahmed Ezz of Egypt. Mohamed Bensalah of Morocco rejoins the list after dropping off in 2013. Seven members of the 2013 list fell off: Vimal Shah of Kenya (as mentioned earlier, his father Bhimji replaced him), Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, Raymond Ackerman of South Africa, Sani Bello of Nigeria, Adrian Gore of South Africa, Shafik Gabr of Egypt, and Alami Lazraq of Morocco.

The oldest person on the list is 85 – both Miloud Chaabi of Morocco and Onsi Sawiris of Egypt share that age. The youngest is Mohammed “Mo” Dewji of Tanzania, age 39. The number of women on the list is two, unchanged from a year ago. Thirty-five of the fortunes were self made; two were inherited and the remaining 13 were inherited but are being expanded. The average net worth of each list member is $2.2 billion, compared to $2.1 billion a year ago.

Our list tracks the wealth of African citizens who reside on the continent, thus excluding Sudanese-born billionaire Mo Ibrahim, who is a U.K. citizen, and billionaire London resident Mohamed Al-Fayed, an Egyptian citizen. We calculated net worths using stock prices and currency exchange rates from the close of business on Friday, November 7. To value privately-held businesses, we couple estimates of revenues or profits with prevailing price-to-sales or price-to-earnings ratios for similar public companies.

We have purposely excluded dispersed family fortunes such as the Chandaria family of Kenya and the Madhvanis of Uganda, because the wealth is believed to be held by dozens of family members. We do include wealth belonging to a member’s immediate relatives if the wealth can be traced to one living individual; in that case, you’ll see “& family” on our list as an indication.
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Over 131 million mobile subscribers in Nigeria

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IT WebAfrica by Simnikiwe Mzekandaba

November 19, 2014

http://www.itwebafrica.com/mobile/319-nigeria/233797-over-131-million-mobile-subscribers-in-nigeria

Active mobile subscribers in Africa’s most populous nation, Nigeria reached more than 131 million for the period ended September 2014.

This is according to reports quoting the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

Earlier this year, the NCC stated that by end of March this year, the total number of Nigeria’s mobile subscribers reached 124.8 million among the country’s main telcos.

Nigeria has four main mobile operators namely MTN Nigeria, Globacom, Airtel Nigeria and Etisalat.

The regulatory body’s latest statistics reveal that active GSM mobile subscribers in the West African nation were 131.9 million at the end of September.

Active CDMA subscribers increased to 2.4 million in September compared to a figure of 2 million reported in July this year.

According to the Nigeria National Bureau of Statistics the country’s total population size is estimated to be 178.5 million citizens.

Nigeria Budget-Cut Pledge Falls Short as Oil Prices Drop

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Bloomberg News by Daniel Magnowski

November 18, 2014

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-11-18/nigeria-budget-cut-pledge-falls-short-as-oil-prices-drop.html

Nigeria’s pledge to trim spending in the face of plunging oil prices may fall short of what’s required as Africa’s biggest crude producer heads into an election year.

Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s proposal to cut expenditure by 6 percent may be insufficient to address investors’ concerns after oil prices plunged by about 30 percent since July, said economists including Alan Cameron, of FCMB Group Plc (FCMB) in London. The budget approval process will probably also face delays because of the vote, scheduled for Feb. 14.

“What’s being proposed here is not proportional to the decline in the oil price, so it’s probably overstating it to say this is a prelude to an austerity budget,” Cameron said in an e-mailed response to questions.

The global collapse in oil prices is biting into Nigeria’s income, 70 percent of which comes from crude exports. The government is running down oil savings held in its Excess Crude Account to help plug the shortfall, while the central bank is selling foreign currency from its reserves to defend the naira after it slumped to a record low.

Okonjo-Iweala, 60, said on Nov. 16 she will propose to lower the budgeted benchmark oil price to $73 per barrel next year from $77.5 this year. Brent crude fell to a four-year low of $76.76 a barrel on Nov. 14.

Proposals to reduce the budget to 4.66 trillion naira ($27 billion) next year include measures such as tightening the rules on foreign travel for officials and raising taxes on luxury goods, such as cars, jets and champagne, the minister said.

Sliding Production

Even if oil prices remain close to the government’s estimate, production is under pressure because of crude theft in the Niger Delta region, threatening government revenue. This year’s budget was based on output of 2.39 million barrels a day, while estimated production in October was 2.09 million, according to a Bloomberg survey.

“The problem has been that even if the oil price scenario on which it is based has been realistic, the oil production number has not been,” David Cowan, an Africa economist at Citigroup Inc., said by phone from London.

Okonjo-Iweala said Nigeria, a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, will produce 2.27 million barrels of oil per day next year.

“The drop in oil prices is a serious challenge which we must confront as a country,” she said. “Our strategy is to continue to strengthen the sectors that drive growth such as agriculture and housing while reducing waste with a renewed focus on prudence.”

Nigeria should have been more careful about saving revenue when oil prices exceeded $100 a barrel, giving it a more substantial cushion to adjust to price shocks, said Cowan.

‘Limited Room’

The Excess Crude Account, which was set up to save the difference between the oil sales price and the budgeted benchmark, may be run down to about half of its current balance of $4.11 billion by the end of the year, Okonjo-Iweala said.

“What the recent oil price weakness shows, is the importance of the Excess Crude Account,” Cowan said. “If, for example, there was $20-$40 billion in it, then that would buy Nigeria six months to make a more gradual and cautious adjustment. But it hasn’t been and their room for maneuver is now much more limited.”

Okonjo-Iweala may also face delays in securing budget approval by lawmakers in the National Assembly in approving the budget. This year’s budget was presented by the Finance Ministry in late December 2013 and only passed into law in May.

“The real question is, what is the chance of getting the budget passed before parliament calls it a day?,” Cowan said. “In recent years the budget has not been passed until well into the year.”

Militants’ Threat

The government is facing spending pressures as it battles an insurgency in the northeast of the country. Boko Haram, an Islamist militant group which has killed more than 13,000 people during a five-year campaign against the government, carries out almost daily attacks on schools, markets, churches and mosques.

“We think that such expenditure constraints will be difficult to implement ahead of the February 2015 presidential election and with high spending needs to counter the Boko Haram insurgency,” Oliver Masetti, a Frankfurt-based economist at Deutsche Bank, said in a Nov. 10 report.

Indonesia’s Widodo Raises Fuel Prices

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Wall Street Journal by Ben Otto

November 17, 2014

http://online.wsj.com/articles/indonesia-seen-likely-to-raise-fuel-prices-at-midnight-1416230590

JAKARTA, Indonesia—President Joko Widodo raised subsidized fuel prices by roughly one-third, a crucial step toward his goal of trimming energy subsidies to free up billions of dollars for infrastructure and other programs.

A fuel-price increase in the world’s fourth-largest nation had been discussed for months, even while Mr. Widodo was on the campaign trail, and has been one of the top expectations since his inauguration last month. Economists have called a phasing out of subsidies the biggest priority for the nearly $900 billion economy.

Mr. Widodo, just back from his first international summits overseas, announced the increase late Monday on national television. Prices for subsidized gasoline will climb to 8,500 rupiah ($0.70) a liter from 6,500 rupiah, while prices for diesel will rise to 7,500 rupiah from 5,500 rupiah, effective midnight.

“From time to time, we as a nation are faced with difficult choices,” Mr. Widodo said in a short statement. “The country needs funds to build infrastructure [and] for education and for health care, but such funds have not been available because they were wasted to subsidize fuel prices.”

Subsidies make fuel in Indonesia—with a population of 250 million—some of the cheapest in the region, but the benefit has gone primarily to the relatively wealthy who can afford cars. The bill has soared in recent years amid fast growth and rising consumption, which has put more cars and motorcycles on the roads. Little has been left over in the state’s discretionary budget for the new ports and roads that the Southeast Asian nation needs to reduce bottlenecks and raise growth rates from a five-year low.

Economists called the 2,000-rupiah increase significant, though less than the 3,000-rupiah increase many were hoping for several months ago. Economists said the move would save Indonesia almost $8 billion through the end of 2015, less than the $12 billion Mr. Widodo’s advisers had once suggested they were targeting.

“The market has somewhat expected the lower increase as global oil prices have fallen,” said Eric Sugandi, economist for Standard Chartered , but will welcome the move nonetheless “because it shows [Mr. Widodo] is doing what he promised to do.”

Franky Welirang, director at PT Indofood Sukses Makmur , one of Indonesia’s largest food producers, said the increases would benefit Indonesia in the long term and that major corporations wouldn’t be hard hit because they don’t consume subsidized fuels.

“If there’s any company complaining their production costs will increase because of higher fuel prices, they’re liars,” Mr. Welirang said.

The move means a significant increase not only for fuel but also for goods that depend on transportation to reach markets. That will help stoke inflation for about three months, likely pushing a year-on-year reading to near 7.5% next month, from less than 5% currently, economists said.

That could push Bank Indonesia to raise rates slightly from 7.50%, a high implemented last year to rein in domestic consumption and a current account deficit. Aldian Taloputra, chief economist of Jakarta-based Mandiri Sekuritas, said the central bank would likely respond with a 0.25-percentage-point increase in its benchmark policy rate “just to anchor in inflation expectations.”

Mr. Widodo promised to disburse cash aid to the country’s poorest families to mitigate the impact, something former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono did as well in previous fuel-subsidy cuts.

The fuel subsidies are a legacy of the more than 30-year rule of former President Suharto, who was ousted in 1998, and have long presented a quandary for Indonesia’s leaders.

Initiated as a measure to stabilize prices and help the poor, the subsidies have increasingly been seen as a gift to the growing consumer class. They now eat up around $20 billion annually. Touching them can be politically sensitive, and efforts in the past have triggered riots.

Mr. Yudhoyono faced turbulence when he tried to cut the popular subsidies during his 10 years in office. Two years ago, faced with violent street protests, he failed to get parliamentary support to raise fuel prices by an average of 33%. That handcuffed government spending and—because Indonesia has been a net fuel importer since the early 2000s—helped blow out the current-account deficit.

Mr. Yudhoyono’s government last year raised fuel prices by that amount anyway after parliament declined to interfere.

The political implications of Monday’s move remain to be seen. Mr. Widodo’s rivals control the legislature and have threatened a strong opposition to him, but he is widely popular and has spent months preparing Indonesians for the eventual increase.

Finance Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro said Monday night that the government would begin working with parliament on where to reallocate the subsidies.

Nigerian billionaires dominate African rich list with £49bn between them

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The Guardian by David Smith

November 13, 2014

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/nov/13/nigeria-dominates-africa-rich-list-with-23-billionaires

Nigeria has more billionaires than any other country in Africa, including the continent’s wealthiest man and the world’s richest black woman, according to a ranking published this week.

The collective wealth of Nigerians on the rich list compiled by Ventures Africa, a business magazine that “champions African capitalism”, stands at $77.7bn (£49bn), more than double that of South Africans and almost as much as the rest of the continent’s billionaires combined.

This year Nigeria overtook South Africa to become the biggest African economy after a sharp rise in its estimated GDP, partly based on new sectors including telecommunications, manufacturing and the Nollywood film industry.

The two African giants are often seen as arch-rivals and there have been a series of diplomatic flashpoints, most recently when an estimated 81 South Africans were killed by the collapse of a church guesthouse in Lagos in September.

Nigerians’ dominance of the Ventures Africa rich list will do nothing to quell South African anxieties that the country is losing its long-assumed pre-eminence on the continent and missing out on the “Africa rising” phenomenon that has seen spectacular economic growth in many nations over the past decade.

Of 55 billionaires in Africa, Nigeria boasts 23 while South Africa and Egypt each have eight. Their net worth totals $161.7bn, up 12.4% from $143.8bn on Ventures Africa’s first list in 2013. Of five new billionaires added this year, four are Nigerian.

Aliko Dangote, founder of Africa’s biggest industrial conglomerate, Dangote Group, remains the continent’s richest man. His net worth has grown to $25.7bn in 2014, a 21% rise from his $20.2bn valuation in 2013.

Second is his compatriot Mike Adenuga, worth $8bn, owner of the Globacom telecommunications company, which has about 30 million subscribers across west Africa. The highest ranking South African, and third overall, is Johann Rupert, chairman and biggest shareholder of the Swiss-based luxury goods company Compagnie Financière Richemont SA.

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Number four on the list is Folorunsho Alakija of Nigeria, whose $7.3bn, generated from oil and gas, puts her ahead of America’s Oprah Winfrey as the richest black woman in the world, according to Ventures Africa. “It is widely believed that Alakija’s friendship with Maryam Babangida, the late wife of former Nigerian military dictator general Ibrahim Babangida, played a huge role in her relatively inexpensive acquisition of the oil block back in 1993,” it notes.

Africa’s second wealthiest woman is Isabel dos Santos, daughter of Angola’s long-time president Jose Eduardo dos Santos, on $3.5bn. Igho Sanomi of Nigeria ($1.3bn) and Mohammed Dewji of Tanzania ($2bn), both 39, are the continent’s youngest billionaires.

Critiques of the African economic success story argue that the growth is not shared but has in fact widened inequality between tiny elites and the poor majority, with Nigeria a prime example. Almost 40% of Nigerian billionaires’ wealth is tied to the country’s oil and gas industry, says Ventures Africa, but it also claims that Africa’s billionaires provide jobs for almost half a million people on the continent.

The magazine asserts: “One of the most challenging aspects of compiling a list of Africa’s richest is that it is taboo to discuss or celebrate wealth in most African societies. The concept of capitalism, where wealth is openly celebrated and tracked, is quite alien to most African societies. As a result, most ultra-high-net-worth individuals are reluctant to discuss their wealth.”

There are several reasons for this, it suggests. “The number of underprivileged people is so large that it almost seems insensitive to celebrate wealth in absolute terms. Another reason may be to ensure that ‘enemies’ are kept at bay. On a continent where systems and structures are not entirely defined, flaunting wealth may attract the wrong kind of attention from people in government.”

African Ventures said the list was compiled by sourcing financial reports, tracking equity holdings around stock markets and identifying shareholding structures in big privately held companies.

Nigeria, Indonesia trade volume hits $3.2b in four years

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The Guardian by Jim Okeke

November 10, 2014

http://www.ngrguardiannews.com/business/186116-nigeria-indonesia-trade-volume-hits-3-2b-in-four-years

The volume of bilateral trade between Nigeria, Indonesia has risen from $1.2 billion to $3.2 billion in 2010 to date, the outgoing Indonesia Ambassador to Nigeria, Sudirman Haseng has disclosed.

The Ambassador, who revealed this at the weekend, when he visited the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Amb. Aminu Wali in his Abuja office, said that the country has about 28 companies operating in Nigeria.

Haseng expressed optimism that the trade volume is expected to increase by next year.

He said “I helped during my tenure as I have informed the Minister that we increased and promote our bilateral relationship especially in the economic investment of the country. During my four years here we managed to increase the trade volume from $1.2 billion to $3.6 billion and from next year it will be about $ 5 billion. In terms of investment I also informed the Minister the Indonesia companies operating here has increased significantly. We have about 28 companies here now. The manufacturers from Indonesia are still being ask to come to Nigeria as a way to revamp the market in Nigeria.”

“So in the next coming years I do believe that the Indonesia companies will come into Nigeria more and more,” he said.

On the cases of Nigerians in Indonesia prisons as a result of the drug trafficking and the possible transfer of the prisoners back to Nigeria, he said, “First of all, we already have the legal framework with regard to this. We already have MOU on the illegal drug trafficking. Indonesia is still considering the proposals.

He added “I don’t have any figures on how many Nigerians that are in prison in our country but am happy to say that during the last five years especially when the two government organised a symposium to find out the solution of these problems. There is no more an increase of Nigerians in prison in Indonesia. So the trend is downward.”

Responding, Wali assured him of the Federal Government cooperation to strengthen the bilateral relationship between the two countries.

“Thank you so much for your cooperation with us an we will continue to partner with you to broaden and strengthen the existing relations between Nigeria and Indonesia”, he said.

Africa’s richest man targets Nigeria’s rice deficit

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Reuters

November 6, 2014

http://www.iol.co.za/business/international/africa-s-richest-man-targets-nigeria-s-rice-deficit-1.1776609#.VFuRH_nF_lo

Lagos – Nigeria enjoys a perfect rice-growing climate over a vast area yet it is the world’s second biggest importer of the staple, often from countries in its warm, wet tropical latitude like top exporter Thailand.

It’s one of those baffling Nigerian paradoxes, like the fact that it is Africa’s top oil producer yet suffers frequent fuel shortages; or that it is sitting on the world’s eighth largest gas reserves but can only produce a few hours of power a day.

As with the other bottlenecks holding back Africa’s biggest economy, decades of bad governance and corruption lie at the root of Nigeria’s agricultural dysfunction.

But unlike oil, where reform remains deadlocked by vested interests, the government is making serious efforts to clean up the farming sector and attract investment.

Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote thinks he can resolve the rice conundrum.

He plans to do this by investing in farmland and mechanising farming practices in a country where many farmers still depend on pre-industrial tilling techniques.

Given his track record in other areas, this is a project to watch.

GET LAND, ADD WATER AND SOW

“Everything you need for rice is here, but unfortunately for a long time no one was interested,” he told Reuters in a telephone interview.

Not having enough land was the first obstacle that faced him after he thought of the idea.

He was surprised at how easily that got solved, as the governments of Jigawa, Niger, Kebbi, Edo and Kwara states between them offered 50 000 hectares to Dangote Industries.

“I think this is enough for us to grow and process up to a million tonnes of rice in the next four years,” he says.

“I believe this is just the beginning.”

To back up his optimism, he points to his past success in producing cement.

Dangote grew his company over a decade from a relatively small cement import business to a behemoth that manufactures nearly 30 million tonnes of the stuff a year, makes up a third of Nigeria’s stock exchange and now has factories in various stages of completion across the continent.

For decades Nigeria was one of the world’s biggest cement importers.

“We (Nigeria) were producing less than 2 million tonnes of cement,” in 2004, the tycoon says.

Ten years later and Nigeria as a whole now produces some 40 million tonnes a year, said Dangote, whose cement empire worth an estimated $20 billion (R223 billion) has earned him the label “richest black person on the planet” from Forbes magazine.

This month, Dangote Cement even had to cut prices to make up for falling sales amid oversupply.

Like cement, demand for rice among Nigeria’s 170 million population is huge, so he won’t need to think about export.

Dangote estimates the current rice deficit at 2 1/2 million tonnes a year.

Nigerians eat rice in outsized portions and no party is complete without mountains of bright orange “jollof” rice – a West African style of cooking the grains in tomato paste, onions and fiery peppers.

Parboiled, not white rice, is favoured.

GOVERNMENT SUPPORT

President Goodluck Jonathan made local production of rice a signature promise before he was elected in 2011.

His government has an ambitious target to import zero rice by the end of 2015, using incentives for farmers like free fertiliser and tax breaks for investors. Jonathan will seek another term in February.

Agriculture Minister Akinwumi Adesina has cleaned up corruption in government handouts of imported fertiliser, which have been hampered by fraud and an inefficient supply chain stretching from the port to the remote villages where it ends up.

That was a major obstacle to development of the sector.

Dangote says his own factories will soon be producing more fertiliser than Nigeria could ever need – 2.8 million tonnes a year – which would cut out the need for imports altogether.

His plans for a 400 000 barrel-per-day oil refinery and petrochemical plant remain on track, he added.

Rice smugglers from neighbouring Benin, Niger and Cameroon are the biggest threat to his business model, Dangote complains, but it still stands to be highly profitable.

But with a reputation as a ruthless monopolist, with interests in everything from food milling to petrochemicals and a personal fortune equal to 4 percent of Nigeria’s GDP, is Dangote not getting too big? He expects some will say that.

“People not investing will raise their hands and say ‘he’s got a monopoly in rice’,” he says.

“Everyone has an opportunity. If other people don’t invest, why is that my fault?”