Here’s an interesting statistic: There are over 4,800 Africans spread across 17 African countries who are individually worth $100 million or more in tangible assets.

It’s a fascinating dynamic. That’s 1,523 percent more African centi-millionaires than global wealth intelligence firm, Wealth-X acknowledges in its ridiculously flawed wealth report on Africa.  In the report (see page 28 for more insight), Wealth-X spuriously claims there are a mere 315 centi-millionaires in Africa. Absolutely false; it’s more like 4,800. And these ultra-high net worth individuals have an aggregate net worth of over $1.2 trillion.

As from next week, the Ventures Africa wealth team will uncover, identify and profile these African centi-millionaires through Africa’s Secret Millionaires- an illuminating new weekly feature on Ventures Africa.

The idea behind Africa’s Secret Millionaires is quite simple. We will traverse across the continent seeking out immensely successful, yet low-key tycoons and business leaders who have been largely under-reported, and then tell their stories. We will look through financial reports, track equity holdings around stock markets, identify specific shareholding structures in privately-held companies and consult with everyone from fund managers to investment bankers, realtors and financial analysts to find information that was has not been made public, and then we will place accurate values on the assets of these ultra-high net worth individuals.

We will deliver stories you’ve never heard of, from Senegal to South Africa, from Namibia to Nigeria and Kenya to Togo. And we won’t just write shallow, pedestrian profiles like other magazines do. No. We’ll break down the figures just for you, using comparators and case studies to explain the rationale for our valuations, all along the way. We will account for shares in private and public companies, income sources, residential and investment properties, art collections, jets, cash and other investible assets. It will be wealth reporting like never before.

And then we will present it at your table.

Through the stories of these wealthy ones, Ventures Africa hopes to lay credence on Africa’s prosperity, its growing attractiveness, its imminent socio-economic revolution and its contemporary renaissance while celebrating African success, the entrepreneurial spirit, and the rewards of hard work.

Ahead of the launch of our Africa’s Secret Millionaires feature, here’s a teaser:

Meet five low-key, ultra-wealthy Tanzanian tycoons, entrepreneurs and business leaders.  Each of them is worth more than $100 million at the very least, but you’ve probably never heard about them.


Said Salim Bakhresa

Net Worth: $620 million

Source: Manufacturing

Unarguably Tanzania’s richest man, Bakhresa dropped out of school at the age of 14 to launch his own business. He started out selling potato mix and subsequently opened a small restaurant in Dar es Salaam in the 1970s. As the restaurant operation expanded, Bakhresa used his profits to found a grain milling and food production company which formed the flagship for the Bakhresa group, a multinational manufacturing conglomerate which manufactures everything from maize flour and confectionaries to chocolates, ice cream, soft drinks and paper bags. Annual sales: $800 million.  The group has manufacturing operations in Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, Rwanda and Mozambique and employs over 2,000 people.

Gulam Dewji

Net Worth: $560 million

Source: Manufacturing

Reclusive tycoon started out in the 70s importing key commodities into Tanzania. He grew the small trading operation into Mohammed Enterprises Tanzania, one of East Africa’s largest conglomerates. Key assets include 21st Century Textiles, one of the largest textile producers in Sub-Saharan Africa. The company’s four textile mills in Tanzania and Mozambique produce 100 million running meters of fabric annually. The group also manufactures Pride, Tanzania’s leading fruit beverage and everything from edible oils, toilet soaps, and artificial sweeteners to bicycles and motorcycles. The group also owns an insurance firm, container depots, a petroleum marketing company, a logistics outfit and a retail concern with over 100 outlets across Tanzania. Gulam’s son, Mohammed is a Member of Parliament in the National Assembly of Tanzania.

Rostam Aziz

Net worth: $420 million

Source: Telecoms, Mining, Shipping

A politician and businessman of Middle East origin, Rostam Aziz is one of Tanzania’s richest men. He was elected into parliament in 1993 and went on to win 2 consecutive terms as an MP. He quit politics in 2011 to focus exclusively on his businesses. Aziz’s family businesses include a 19 percent stake in Vodacom Tanzania, the country’s leading cellular network with over 8 million subscribers, Caspian – the country’s largest contract mining company and the Dar es Salaam Port which it owns in partnership with Hong Kong conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa.

Reginald Mengi

Net worth: $280 million

Source: Media, Coca-Cola Bottling, Gold Mining

Mengi, a trained Chartered accountant is one of Africa’s most revered media moguls, and one of Tanzania’s wealthiest men. After practicing accounting, he ventured into private business by manufacturing and assembling ballpoint pens and selling to large retailers. Today, the IPP Group which he founded and chairs, owns 10 national newspapers (including Tanzania’s Financial Times, ThisDay and The Guardian), two of East Africa’s most popular Television stations (EATV and ITV), and about ten radio stations. He also owns a Coca-Cola bottling plant in Dar-es Salaam as well as two gold mining companies, IPP Gold and Handeni Gold in Tanzania.

Ali Mufuruki

Net worth: $110 million

Source: Retailing, Venture capital

Mufuruki is the founder and Executive chairman of Tanzania’s Infotech Investment Group. The group holds the Tanzanian and Ugandan franchise for South African retail giant Woolsworth. Infotech also has interests in property development and leasing, hospitality, advertising and mobile telecommunications. Mufuruki is also a co-founder and partner at East Africa Capital Partners, a technology, media and telecommunications sector focused Venture Capital Fund Manager investing in the greater Eastern Africa region. Also a prominent board room guru, Mufuruki sits on the boards of the Nation media group, East Africa’s largest media conglomerate and Stanbic bank Tanzania. He is also the chairman of Africa Leadership Initiative East Africa Foundation which aims to develop a new generation of values-based community spirited leaders in Africa.

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