Affluent family dynasties are built on more than just money. These six African families that are the most affluent and most influential on the continent.
Just about anyone can make money and be called rich. Just about anyone can amass wealth and be called wealthy. But when it comes to building a fortune that can stand the test of time and establishing affluence that can be handed down from generation to generation, it’s a very exclusive list with few names.
It is true that money is the most important metric for measuring wealth but building an affluent family dynasty takes more than just racking up many zeros and commas behind some whole numbers. There’s a lot of generational wisdom, work ethic, and ambition that goes into the process. And this is what transforms family bloodlines into a force to reckon with from generation to generation.
Although it’s a list with relatively few names, the African continent does boast a number of these dynasties; powerful and rich family strongholds that would definitely make it into one of Mario Puzzo’s books if there was any hint of mafia might.
Without further ado, here’s a list of Africa’s richest families that you probably didn’t know about.
The Ibru Family (Nigeria)
The Ibru Family is considered one of the most successful and influential families in the history of Nigeria. Some of the key names the Ibru Family boasts are the late Felix Ibru, Goodie Ibru, who was president of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, and Alex Ibru, who once served as Minister for Internal Affairs and founded Guardian Newspaper.
Perhaps the most influential Ibru was Olorogun Michael Christopher Ibru. Michael was well-known for having founded the first black-owned frozen fish business, as well as vehicle distribution and marketing company, Ruta, which, at one time, was the sole distributor of Mazda, Tata, and Jeep vehicles.
Despite rumours of family rifts over succession, the family conglomerate, the Ibru Organization, remains one of the largest businesses in Nigeria and it holds a huge stake in Aero Contractors Airlines, Sheraton, and Ikeja Hotels Plc, among others.
The Kenyatta Family (Kenya)
The ‘Kenyatta’ name is a household name in both business and politics in Kenya, having produced two Kenyan presidents – first president, President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, and fourth president, President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The influence of the Kenyatta family is, arguably, the most telling in the East African Region. The family commands a lot of business control in the dairy, hospitality, media, and banking industries both in Kenya and abroad. Some of the family’s notable investments include Brookside Dairy, Heritage Hotels, and Mediamax Group. They also hold about a sizeable amount of shares in Commercial Bank of Africa (CBA).
The dos Santos Family (Angola)
This family has got its hands in several pies, from petroleum to mining, banking, real estate, cement, retail, media, and entertainment. There aren’t many areas of trade and investment that the dos Santos Family have not made their presence felt.
At the helm of affairs is José Eduardo dos Santos, the 75-year-old Angolan president, who has been in power for 37 years. The family also boasts Isabel dos Santos, commonly described as the richest woman in Africa.
Isabel owns banks, telecom companies, a cement factory, a supermarket chain, restaurants, casinos, and also holds stakes in various utility firms. She also has a vast portfolio of investments in Angola, Portugal, Mozambique, and Cape Verde.
Other influential names in the family include banker and investor, José Filomeno de Sousa dos Santos, media guru, Welwitschia José dos Santos Pego (Tchizé), and famous creative, José Paulino dos Santos, who is popularly known as ‘Coreon Dú.’ The family’s got its fingerprints everywhere.
The Oppenheimer Family (South Africa)
Remember what they say about diamonds being forever? Well, if there’s any truth in that, then the Oppenheimers’ wealth is surely never going away.
This South African family previously owned De Beers and Anglo American, two of the biggest names in the world of diamond, gold and platinum mining. What started as a broker job for German-born Ernest Oppenheimer in Kimberley, South Africa, developed into a mining empire whose wealth and power reigned for years around the world.
Even though the family has divested most of its shares in the mining companies, the wealth and influence have only grown and it sure looks like things will stay that year for many years to come if not forever.
The Bakhresa Family (Tanzania)
Between Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, and Mozambique, the brands — Azam and Bakhresa Group — have found their turf in the food, beverage, and plastics industries.
The family business was started by Said Salim Bakhresa as a small restaurant but somehow, it has morphed into a continental juggernaut.
The Bakhresa Group boasts annual turnover in the region of USD 1 Bn and the group of companies is currently managed by Said’s sons, Mohammed and Abubakar.
The group encompasses companies like Azam Media and a confectionery company, among many others. The Azam Group also deals in petroleum and plastics, while owning and running Azam Football Club; one of the biggest football clubs in Tanzania.
The Rupert Family (South Africa)
You know how they say humble beginnings shouldn’t be despised? There aren’t very many stories that epitomise this more than this one.
It began as a small cigarette company in 1941 but today, it is a massive billion-dollar corporate empire, making the Rupert Family one of the wealthiest and influential families in the world.
The Rupert Family owns luxury brands such as Cartier, Mont Blanc, and Dunhill, under the Richemont banner. Besides the luxury brands and cigarettes, the family also has its hands all over the beverage industry, controlling nearly a fifth of South Africa’s wine market, while accounting for up to 80 percent of all Brandy sales.
The Ruperts, through the investment company, Remgro (formerly Rembrandt S.A.), also own Mediclinic, which is one of South Africa’s biggest healthcare brands.