He said the Lagos-based magazine, which boasts it “champions African capitalism by celebrating African success, free enterprise and the entrepreneurial spirit,” regularly collects information about rich Africans and dedicated three months to research spread across the continent.
Iweala said he was excited to find several Africans who have become wealthy through manufacturing and financial services showing “we’re moving away from a continent that is just resource-based.”
He found Africa’s billionaires “very bullish on Africa: They believe this is the environment to make fortunes and to make changes … they are not taking their money and running” abroad.
And he found Africa’s richest people are becoming more transparent about their wealth and more formal in returning wealth to the community: “As people have more and more money we’re seeing more and more foundations putting money back, and in a more structured way.”
Alakija’s Rose of Sharon Foundation helps support widows and orphans all over Nigeria, for instance.
According to Ventures Africa, the 61-year-old Alakija studied fashion design in London in the 1980s and returned home to set up Supreme Stitches, which became an exclusive label catering to a wealthy clientele including Mariam Babangida, wife of former Nigerian military dictator Ibrahim Babangida. In 1993, the Babangida regime gave Alakija a license to explore for oil in a block that has become one of the most prolific in the oil-rich country, producing some 200,000 barrels a day, according to the magazine.
It credited Alakija for holding on to her license and entering into a joint venture with an international oil exploration company at a time when many Nigerians given licenses, mainly military generals, sold them off to international oil firms.
Alakija fought a court case for more than a decade when a civilian government forcefully awarded itself a 50 percent interest in her company, after the field was confirmed in 2000 to hold reserves in excess of 1 billion barrels. A court last year voided the government’s acquisition and returned the stake to Alakija’s Famfa Oil, which she runs as a family business with her husband and four sons.
Ventures Africa said the value of Alakija’s 60 percent stake in the block, based on recent sales in Nigeria, is between $6.44 billion and $8.3 billion.