Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Could Botswana’s billionaires please stand up and be counted

Botswana does not have billionaires; if it does then Forbes Magazine has not found them. Out of the 23 billionaires that Forbes Magazine uncovered in Africa not one of them is from Botswana. From the list neighboring country, South Africa, emerged with the highest number of billionaires at eight, followed by Egypt at six, Nigeria at three, Morocco at two and one from Algeria, Angola, Tanzania and Zimbabwe respectively. Nigerian cement and commodities tycoon Aliko Dangote tops the list at a net worth of $12.2 billion.

“The 23 billionaires that Forbes found in Africa ÔÇô up from 21 billionaires last year — are worth a combined $75.4 billion, compared to $70 billion in January 2017,” according to Forbes’ 2018 list of the continent’s richest.

In 2017 Forbes compiled a list of multi-millionaires in Botswana. The list included  Abdul Satar Dada, founder of Associated Investment Development Corporation (AIDC), a conglomerate with interests in motor vehicle dealerships, printing and publishing, steel manufacturing, property, agribusiness and telecommunications; Gulaam Hussain Abdoola, founder of Turnstar Holdings, a diversified regional sub-Saharan African property loan stock company listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange. He has 15.7 percent stake in the company which was valued at more than $25 million; Chandrakanth Chauhan, CEO and largest individual shareholder of Sefalana Group, the first company to get listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange. He owns a 4.5 percent stake in the company which was valued at more than $12 million; Ramachandran Ottapathu, CEO of Choppies, Botswana’s largest retailer with more than 170 stores in Botswana as well as regional presence in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya, and Tanzania. He owns a 19.5 percent stake in Choppies which was valued at more than $60 million; Ismail, co-founder and Deputy Chairman of Choppies. He owns a 14.6 percent stake in the listed retailer which was valued at more than $45 million. Ismail also owns a 39.5 percent stake in Far Property Company Limited, a public traded real estate development and Asset Management company located in Botswana. The exclusion of Botswana’s elite suggests that their riches have not yet reached a billionaire status. Based on the list it can be deduced that the retail sector leads in terms of the origin of wealth as three out of the five multi-millionaires have interests in it. Dada’s wealth portfolio appears to be more diversified than the rest with interests in various sectors.

According to Forbes net worths of the African billionaires were calculated using stock prices and currency exchange rates from the close of business on January 5, 2018. For privately-held businesses the valuation coupled estimates of revenues or profits with prevailing price-to-sales or price-to-earnings ratios for similar public companies.

In 2016 data from the World Bank indicated that Botswana had the highest density in terms of the number of newly registered corporations per 1 000 working age (ages 15-64) in Southern Africa. The 2017 Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs (MIWE) report found that Botswana was among top three three countries that had the highest opportunities for women as business leaders, professionals, entrepreneurs and labour force participants to advance both economically and professionally. It would appear however that despite the ease with which businesses can be created in the country and the availability of opportunities for women to actively participate in the economy such enablers have not significantly spurred the emergence of entrepreneurs to acquire wealth of the same rank as the listed African billionaires.

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