Africa is known for its beautiful landscapes and natural resources. Despite the many resources the continent has, many Africans continue to live in abject poverty thanks to the leaders who get into power and squander what could have been beneficial to the population. Many African presidents are wealthy. Long-term serving presidents are especially rich because the power they have has enabled them to have better shots at investments compared to the average citizen. The richest presidents in Africa attribute their wealth to inheritances, businesses, and countries' resources.
Former wealthy presidents keep building their wealth even after they complete their term, expanding businesses and increasing their assets. Some African presidents have legally acquired their wealth as they have gradually built their empires from scratch.
Another fraction, however, uses their power to frustrate competitors and amass every penny while in government. Most of the rich African presidents come from a long line of wealth. Their families are elite and almost always have links when the first governments were formed when African countries gained independence.
Richest presidents in Africa
The following are 15 richest presidents in Africa:
1. King Mohammed VI (Morocco) - $5.8 billion
King Mohammed VI was born on 21 August 1963 in Rabat, Morocco. He is the current leader of Morocco, a position he took after the passing of his father in 1999. Mohammed VI is a member of the Alaouite dynasty, the present Moroccan royal family. This Africa's richest monarch is an established businessman and banker.
His investments range from banking, mining, tourism, real estate, telecommunications, and cement manufacturing. King Mohammed VI and his family hold the majority stakes in the Société Nationale d'Investissement (SNI). The SNI is a large food conglomerate company with many important businesses in the North African country.
2. Ali Bongo Ondimba (Gabon) - $1 billion
Ali Bongo was elected as the president of Gabon upon his father's death in 2009. His father Omar Bongo had been president for 41 years. Ali was a minister in his father's government and held other senior positions in-state entities. He grew in wealth thanks to the properties his father accumulated while in power.
His family is accused of looting the oil-rich central African country. Bongo's family have assets all over Gabon and Europe. Their oil wealth and private property make Ali one of the richest African president in Gabon.
3. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo (Equatorial Guinea) - $600 million
Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo has been the president of Equatorial Guinea since 1979. The 77-year-old longtime politician ascended to the top seat by ousting his uncle in a 1979 military coup. Teodoro Obiang is the second-longest consecutively serving leader who holds a non-monarchial post.
The Equatorial Guinea president's source of wealth has been linked to massive corruption and abuse of power by him and his family members. The 77-year-old president owns properties and supercars in his home country and France and runs several businesses in different countries. The Obiang family has secret offshore accounts, luxury goods stacked in mansions in America and Europe, and local investments.
4. Uhuru Kenyatta (Kenya) - $500 million
Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta is the fourth president of Kenya having been elected in 2013. The 61-year-old is the son of the first president of Kenya and the richest president in East Africa. The fourth president had been serving as a longtime member of parliament before being elected.
Uhuru Kenyatta's family is one of the richest in the country. The Kenyatta family has interests in dairy farming, real estate, banking, hospitality, and media. Some of the business entities Kenyatta and his family own include Brookside Dairies, Heritage Group of Hotels, Great Rift Valley Lodge and Golf Resort, Kipungani Explorer, Mara Explorer, Commercial bank of Africa, and media houses.
5. Paul Kagame (Rwanda) - $500 million
Paul Kagame has been the president of Rwanda since 2000. The fourth president of Rwanda is a former military leader having fought in Yoweri Museveni's rebel army in the 1980s and being a commander in the Rwandan Patriotic Front, Kagame was vice president and Minister of Defence before becoming the president. He won in the 2007 election with 99% of the votes cast.
Paul Kagame has investments in almost all major sectors in his country. The Kagame family controls a huge portion of the Rwandan economy through a holding company called Crystal Ventures. The company owns assets that have a book value of more than $500 million. This includes a $50 million Bombardier Global Express private jet.
6. Cyril Ramaphosa (South Africa) - $450 million
Cyril Ramaphosa is the fifth and current president of South Africa. Ramaphosa became the president after former president Jacob Zuma resigned in 2018. The former anti-apartheid activist, trade union leader, and businessman has been praised for his able negotiating abilities and strategic planning. His entrepreneurial skills are recognized thanks to the many investments he has all over the country.
Cyril Ramaphosa has tens of properties and previously-held important ownership in big companies like McDonald's South Africa. He was at some point chair and major shareholder in MTN. He has had interests in Lonmin, a British producer of platinum group metals operating in the Bushveld Complex of South Africa.
7. King Mswati III (Swaziland) - $200 million
Born on 19 April 1968, King Mswati III has been the leader in Swaziland since 1986. Born Makhosetive Dlamini, the Swaziland leader took the name King Mswati III and also married the first of several wives during his coronation ceremony on 25 April 1986.
Mswati III became the youngest ruling monarch after his crowning, having been only 18 years old. The Swazi king has 15 wives and 23 children. Other than his polygamous lifestyle, the Swaziland ruler is known for living large. He owns luxurious items, including supercars and expensive jewellery. He owns several palaces and properties across the country. He also runs successful businesses.
8. Paul Biya (Cameroon) - $200 million
Paul Biya is the current president of Cameroon, a position he has held since 6 November 1982. Paul Biya passed a bill allowing him to add another term in power in 2008. This caused civil unrest in the country as Cameroonians protested his unconstitutional move. The demonstrations, however, did not stop him as he has maintained his stay in power.
His over 38 years at the helm have seen him control the country's economic curve while still increase his wealth. A significant share of his wealth has been described as illegally acquired. Paul Biya and his family have businesses and significant shares in big companies that deal with oil, insurance, timber, banking, construction, transport, and mobile telephony.
9. Abdel Fattah Khalil el-Sisi (Egypt) - $185 million
Born Abdel Fattah Saeed Hussein Khalil el-Sisi on 19 November 1954, the Egyptian president previously served as a mechanized infantry commander and then as director of military intelligence. He also served as the Minister of Defence under the Morsi government after the 2011 Egyptian revolution.
El-Sisi is a long-term politician and businessman who has managed to build a fortress of wealth through the years. He runs several investment companies and has significant interests in different sectors in North Africa and some parts of the Middle East.
10. Isaias Afwerki (Eritrea) - $100 million
Isaias Afwerki is the first and only president Eritrea has had since the country gained independence in 1993. He was among the leaders who helped the horn of Africa nation get the freedom by fighting in the Eritrean War of independence that lasted for three decades.
His presidency is laced with his draconian style of ruling and gagging of the media. Isaias Afwerki is among the wealthiest presidents of Africa. He is known to have hundreds of secret Swiss bank accounts, properties, and several investments in Eritrea and other countries. His misuse of resources in the country and abuse of power has contributed to his wealth.
11. Muhammadu Buhari (Nigeria) - $80 million
Muhammadu Buhari is the current president of Nigeria, having been elected in 2015. The former military general of the Nigerian Army was a new breath of fresh air when elected as people had hopes given he was in opposition before getting elected. Buhari also previously served as military head of state from 1983 to 1985, after taking power in a military coup d 'état.
The 77-year-old Daura native is the 15th president of Nigeria. His administration has however been marred with allegations of corruption and policies that are not helpful to the citizens. Away from politics, Muhammadu Buhari owns several businesses that are run by his family.
12. Peter Mutharika (Malawi) - $55 million
Peter Mutharika has been the president of Malawi since 2014. He succeeded his brother Bingu Wa Mutharika who passed on after a cardiac arrest in 2012. Prior to him being elected as President, Peter Mutharika worked globally in the field of international justice. He is also an expert on international economic law, international law, and comparative constitutional law.
Peter Mutharika's election to office was marred with rigging allegations. He was, however, sworn in as the president despite protests from the opposition. Peter Mutharika's family is among the elite families in Malawi. This has enabled him to expand his business interests and other investments. His primary source of wealth comes from farming, his career in law, and inheritance.
13. Idriss Déby (Chad) - $50 million
Idriss Déby has been the president of Chad since 1990. The 67-year-old Chadian politician took over power after an uprising against the then-president Hissène Habré in December 1990. He has managed to beat any other resistance movement that tries to come against him since he got to be president. He is one of the richest heads of state in Africa.
Idriss Déby won elections in 1996 and 2001 and later got rid of term limits. He has since won every election held in the country. The former military personnel has used his power to acquire wealth and expand his business empire. He has massive amounts of oil wealth and properties that range from buildings and expensive luxurious goods.
14. Yoweri Museveni (Uganda) - $50 million
Yoweri Museveni has been in power since 1986 after a rebellion against Idi Amin and Milton Obote. He was first democratically elected in the 1996 elections. He has since been winning in subsequent elections notwithstanding rigging allegations in every poll. Museveni has been extending his term with every new election.
He is known for mistreating critics and those that go against the government. Yoweri Museveni has over the years invested in different sectors in his agricultural rich country. He has made empires in industries such as agriculture, construction, food processing, and energy.
15. Pierre Nkurunzinza (Burundi) - $45 million
Pierre Nkurunzinza has been the president of Burundi since 2005. Labelled as a tyrant for his greed for power, Pierre has maintained that he is lawfully elected as the president of the East African nation. The 55-year-old Burundian politician has been accused of instigating massacres and violating the rights of those that go against him.
He has no plans of leaving the top seat any time soon and continues to apply his totalitarian policies. Even with the poverty levels in Burundi, Pierre continues to hoard his wealth. He has several successful companies with interests in agriculture and other sectors in the country.
It is not strange to find political figures immersed in the world of business. In fact, most politicians ascend to power to protect their business interests and eliminate their competitors. African strongmen have it easy with power and resources at their hands. The majority of the industries that attract the richest presidents in Africa include mining, banking, agriculture, construction, insurance, oil, energy, and distribution.