It’s something of a common feature in Africa, as in many other parts of the world, for lavish wealth to exist side-by-side with abject poverty.
Indeed, the prosperity paradox in Africa is such that the continent’s three richest people control more wealth than the poorest 650 million people in Africa. Actually, this pretty much implies that the three richest people in Africa have more money than half the continent.
Among the holders and controllers of stupendous wealth in Africa are the political class; people who have both the money and the political power, and the former may have been born of the latter.
As the wealth of the ruling class and the affluence of the elite continue to swell, and the poverty of the deprived continues to worsen, Africa appears to be morphing into the home of extreme wealth inequality.
While up to 413 million Africans live on less than USD 1.90 a day, leaders of certain African nations sit on top of millions, even though their countries can be considered poor or at risk of poverty.
While African leaders sit on millions, the World Bank predicts that “poverty will soon become a predominantly African phenomenon.”
Commenting on increasing poverty and wealth inequality, Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam International, said: “Africa is ready to rise — but only once it’s leaders have the courage to back a more human economy that works for the many and not a few super-rich men.”
For context, these are the three richest African leaders who control a combined USD 7.4 Bn wealth between them, even though the countries they lead are still plagued by extreme poverty.
- Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon (USD 1 Bn)
This President of Gabon is said to be worth USD 1 Bn and makes USD 65 K per year. In 2010, Daily Mail reported that he bought a townhouse in Paris worth USD 129 Mn.
A year prior, the independent anti-corruption watchdog, Transparency International, had filed a case against the Bongo family.
The case was later dropped in 2017, according to French news agency AFP, due to insufficient evidence of alleged “ill-gotten gains”.
While the president lives in abundance, nearly five percent of the population lives below the international poverty line of USD 1.25 every day.
- Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea (USD 600 Mn)
Obiang became the president of Equatorial Guinea in 1979 after overthrowing his uncle, Francisco Macías Nguema, in an August 1979 military coup. Forbes estimates that he is worth USD 600 Mn.
Reportedly, he has an estate in Malibu, three USD 1.7 Mn Bugatti Veyrons and multiple homes in South Africa. He was rumoured to have spent USD 10 million on champagne, property upgrades and multiple luxury cars including a couple of Bentleys and a Lamborghini during a weekend in South Africa.
He has been accused of looting his oil-rich country while his citizens live on less than USD 1.00 per day.
- King Mohammed VI of Morocco (USD 5.8 Bn)
The Kingdom of Morocco is currently ruled by vastly-rich King Mohammed VI who is estimated to be worth USD 5.8 Bn, according to Forbes. This makes him the wealthiest leader across the continent.
Reportedly, his wealth comes mostly from investments and inheritances from his father, King Hassan. He controls Moroccan investment holding company, Societe Nationale d’Investissement, worth over USD 10 Bn.
King Mohammed VI also owns one of the world’s largest phosphate reserves and has investments in the financial, mining, telecommunications, and distribution sectors.
It is said that the Moroccon leader sets aside a daily operating budget of USD 960 K for his palace. He was famously seen with a rare Patek Philippe watch on his wrist. That rare piece is believed to be worth an incredible USD 1.2 Bn!
The richest African leader rules a country where 24 percent of the population (approximately 9 million Moroccans) can be “considered poor or at risk of poverty,” according to a World Bank report.
Featured Image Courtesy: NewZimbabwe