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The Ten Richest Women in Africa and What They Do as Millionaires

Updated on September 18, 2018
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Ms. Inglish has 30 years' experience in medicine, psychology, STEM instruction, history, and aerospace education for USAF Civil Air Patrol.

Marievale Bird Sanctuary, Gauteng Province, South Africa: Purple Heron
Marievale Bird Sanctuary, Gauteng Province, South Africa: Purple Heron | Source

South African Wealth in the 21st Century

The following group of nine business women in Africa enjoy a net worth of over $30,000,000 (USD) each; some, much more.. The list comes from a compilation I gathered from various lists and profiles in, CNNMoney, US News and World Reports, and Google News.

The wealthiest women are significantly more wealthy than the number ten person, whose net worth is "only" $16,100,000 as of February 2012. Updates as of December 31. 2014 are supplied by data at and

Eight out of the nine individuals listed below are from South Africa, where the fields of gems, metals, and minerals are of great worth themselves. One is the President of Angola's daughter and while his influence has helped her, she has completed much work on her own toward her fortune.

Five of the top women millionaires are women of color and most of the list uses their wealth and influence to create additional jobs in South and Central Africa and to increase the standard of living for lower- and middle-income people.

10. Sharon Wapnik

Down from Number Eight in 2011, Ms. Wapnik made her fortune of 334 Million Rand or 43.1 Million USD in Investments and Real Estate in 2014 - 2015. She is an attorney, but also Chairman and Director of Premium Properties Limited.

In addition, Ms. Wapnik chairs and directs Octodex Investments Limited. She is daughter to billionaire Alec Wapnik, founder of City Property in 1938.

Business Panelists in Fortune Global Forum 2013, left to right: Jennifer Reingold, Bridgette Radebe (Executive Chairperson, Mmakau Mining),Deborah Lehr,  Huaying Zhang,
Business Panelists in Fortune Global Forum 2013, left to right: Jennifer Reingold, Bridgette Radebe (Executive Chairperson, Mmakau Mining),Deborah Lehr, Huaying Zhang,

9. Bridgette Radebe, Mining Mogul

Down from Number 4 in 2011, Ms. Radebe (born in 1960) is the Chairman of the extremely successful Mmakau Mining in South Africa. and her company is active in mining coal, gold, platinum, chrome, and uranium, as well as pursing mining interests and related commercial endeavors.. She started out working in the mines herself as a contract miner in the 1980s. It was hard work she welcomed and it brought her experience and income enough to found her own mining business on her own, the first black woman in SA to do so in mining. While her net worth is large, it is currently not published.

This business person overcame racial and gender prejudice in South Africa to earn a mining license and to become successful. Ms. Radabe received the International Businessperson of the Year Award in 2008 from the Global Foundation for Democracy for her success and her achievements in eliminating poverty in South Africa. Serving on various boards and a foundation of her own creation, Ms. Radebe would like South Africa to consider nationalization of mining or some sort of partnership between public and private sectors over a strictly capitalistic system. This would combat monopolies in natural resources, she feels.

South Africa's First Black Millionaire

Ms. Radebe's younger brother, Patrice Motsepe, is himself worth $3.3 Billion in Johannesburg; this is totally separate from his wife's net worth. After becoming a successful attorney, Mr. Motsepe began mine contracting work and progressed upward in labor through management and ownership in the lucrative mining industry. He began with low-producing mines that he turned around beginning in 1994 to provide huge revenues and profits as well as jobs for South Africans.

Both millionaire sister and billionaire brother worked hard in the mines of South Africa, saved money, and founded their own businesses.

8. Irene Charnley - Telecommunications

Irene Charnley (born 1960) was Number Six in 2011. She is the Executive Director of MTN Telecommunications in South Africa, but first, she was a union negotiator for the National Union of Mineworkers in SA. She has been a director of MTN telecommunications company, FirstRand Bank, Johnnic, Johnnic Communications, and Smile Telecoms.

MTN operates stores in at least two dozen African nations and Middle East countries as of 2012. Ms. Charnley is no longer Executive Director of the company, but serves on the board and has amassed a net worth of what is believed to be $150 Million. In 2012, she is currently the CEO of Smile Telecoms, an affordable telecommunications products company working out of Mauritias.

The company helps lower-income individuals to have telecommunications and continues a line of anti-poverty programs Ms. Charnley began with MTN. She also founded the National Empowerment Consortium in South Africa to include 50% black business owners and 50% black laborers.

An MTN Mobile store.
An MTN Mobile store. | Source

Successful Businesses

  • MTN Group

    The MTN Group is Africa’s leading telecommunications provider, operating in 21 countries across the region

  • Smile Telecoms Holdings Ltd - Home

    In a world where access to information and communication technology contributes significantly to socio-economic progress, the communication needs of low income consumers across Africa and the Middle East enjoy Smile Coms.

7. Wendy Ackerman

Wendy Ackerman was on this list as Number Two (2011 - 2015) as a retail tycoon in South Africa. She and her husband own Ackerman Family Trust. Her net worth is 1.4 Billion Rand or 190.2 Million USD.The Trust owns about 50% of Pick ‘n’ Pay, a major South African grocery-retail chain.

The 3 Billion USD company (June 2011) owns retail outlets in Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe. and Australia. Ms. Ackerman is the Executive Director of Pick 'n' Pay, the chain that sells food, general merchandise and clothing and that employs 38,000 or more people.

Ackerman has always been deeply involved in promoting education among the underprivileged in South Africa. She is a trustee of the Ackerman Family Educational Trust Fund, which assists students from all over the country with bursaries for tertiary education.

—; 2018.

6. Wendy Appelbaum

Ms. Appelbaum's net worth reported by Forbes in early 2012 as 1.99 Billion African Rand or 259.3 Million USD. She and her husband own Chair De Morgenzen Wine Estate.

Her net worth has been amassed through a family trust with which she is connected. It is the Gordon Family Trust.

Ms. Appelbaum is the director of Pick N Pay Holdings Limited. Ms. Appelbaum was Number Two on this list in 2011. In 2014, she was worth 2.6 Billion Rand.


5. Elisabeth Bradley

Elisabeth Bradley was Number Nine on this list for 2011. She enjoyed a net worth in mid-2011 of 246 Million Rand or 32 Million USD, all results of her Investments portfolio.

Ms. Bradley is Chairman of Wesco Investments Limited, Vice-Chairman of Toyota South Africa Limited, and a Director of AngloGold.

She is on the boards of Standard Bank Group, Hilton Hotel and Roseback Inn.

Selected Investments

AngloGold operates at least 23 mines on the African Continent and around the world. It employed nearly 66,000 people as of 2012, with $6.4 million in gold income.

4. Hajia Bola Shagaya

This successful woman is form Nigeria, where I have many friends. I am happy to see her to appear on the list of the 10 Richest Women in Africa for 2014, 2015, and 2016. In addition, she is near the middle of the list. She is the excellent founder and CEO of the conglomerate called Bolmus Group International.

Her company is a diverse and well known for business transactions in oil, real estate, and banking. Her ventures reach across the oceans to America and Europe.

A respected board member of Unity Bank PLC, her net worth is reported at $600 million USD. She is quite the example to young women who want to pursue business careers.

3. Ngina Kenyatta: Billionaire

Popularly known as Mama Ngina, this successful woman is the widow of Kenya’s fourth president, President Jomo Kenyatta.

A major shareholder in a large bank, Mrs. Kenyatta also has businesses involved in agriculture, additional banking, education, hospitality, insurance, and real estate.

Some of her wealth is undeclared in the media, but sources report at least $1,000,000,000 reported to the press.

The Kenyatta Trust sponsors bright at-risk youth in high school and through their first college degree. For sponsorship, they must have good grades and standardized test scores, extracurricular activities, and community service.

2. Folorunsho Alakija: Rich in Fashion and Oil

Ms. Alakija, another Nigerian, began a course of secretarial studies and fashion design, but changed tracks. She returned to Nigeria and worked hard - she did not inherit money.

She founded a tailoring business, Supreme Stitches, and has completed work for former first ladies of the nation. Each outfit is one-of-a-kind.

Later, her investments allowed her huge success in the famous and successful Nigerian oil industry, which has a long history. Her net worth at the end of 2014 was reported as $2.5 billion USD.

This wealthy woman's Rose of Sharon Foundation helps widows and orphans with scholarships and business grants. She also sponsors the acclaimed Agbami Medical and Engineering Scholarship.

1. Isabel Jose Dos Santos: Investments

Isabel Dos Santos, born 1973
Isabel Dos Santos, born 1973 | Source

Isabel Jose Dos Santos is the oldest daughter of the nation's President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos

Isabel Jose Dos Santos is the Wealthiest Woman in Africa and is from Angola, in the Central Area of the continent and on the Atlantic coast.

Ms. Dos Santos made her millions in Investments. Forbes Magazine reported that she is worth 1.3 Billion Rand or $170 Million USD in 2011, but 3.7 billion USD at the end of 2014 and 2015. She also married a millionaire, Sindika Dokolo, from Congo.

Isabel is he oldest daughter of the nation's President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, whose term in office has run from 1979 to date. He has influenced some of her business dealings, but she has accomplished much on her own. CBS News has called President Dos Santos one of the world's enduring dictators, bringing the nation's oil business, diamond mines, and politics into his control. He has, indeed, gathered all of Angola's natural resources under his control.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Mountains in Angola.near successful diamond mines.Dusk in Angola
Mountains in Angola.near successful diamond mines.
Mountains in Angola.near successful diamond mines. | Source
Dusk in Angola
Dusk in Angola | Source

Angola's Constitution is based on Portuguese law and many of Isabel's investments are largely in Portugal or of Portuguese origin. These include:

  • Banco Espírito Santo: Finance, banking
  • Banco Português de Investimento: Finance, banking
  • Energias de Portugal (EDP): Energy (electricity)
  • Kento Holding: In Malta at 100% ownership by Isabel. The holding company owns 10% of Zon Multimedia media giant and part of Portugal Telecom in Portugal.
  • Commercial holdings in oil and diamond mines within Angola.
  • Purchased retail interests in 2011 and plans a supermarket opening.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
EDP campus.
EDP campus.
EDP campus. | Source

Isabel Jose Dos Santos owns a quarter of Unitel, the largest mobile phone carrier in Angola, Africa.

Extra: A Gold Mining Woman

Mamphela Ramphele (born 1947) is a physician and professor-researcher as well as a business person who placed Number Five among the most wealth women in Africa in 2011.

As Chairperson of Gold Fields since 2010, she is busy in mining and processing gold and employing 45,000 workers. Company assets in mid-2011 were 70 Billion Rand or 90.9 Million USD (references: Forbes Magazine and Mining Weekly [June 2011]).

Born into South Africa, she enrolled in the only medical school that would accept black students without specific government clearance and written authorization - University of Natal Medical School. After graduation four years later, she began to work against apartheid politically and was banished for seven years to a small town by the government.

However, she continued to education in social sciences and finally became a Director of the World Bank. She has earned a number of awards and sits as trustee in several company boards in Africa and the USA. She was the first black woman appointed as University of Cape Town vice chancellor in 1996


  •, PIONEERING WOMEN'S RIGHTS: One of the cornerstones of Pick n Pay’s success over the last 50 years and counting; 2018. Retrieved September 18, 2018.

© 2012 Patty Inglish MS


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