Sixty-two-year-old, Nigerian oil magnate, Folorunsho Alakija, has emerged the wealthiest black woman on earth according to Forbes.
The report noted that Alakija assumed the new status after displacing the renowned media executive, talk show host, and philanthropist, Oprah Winfrey who was hitherto occupying the enviable position.
According to Forbes, Alakija’s fortune has been estimated at $600 million, as of November 2012, however, the magazine’s editor-in-chief Uzodinma Iweala said his researchers were ‘closer to the ground.’
Expatiating the reports, they noted that Brazilian oil company, Petrobas, was looking to sell its 8 percent stake in OML 127 for $1.5- $2.5 billion, and extrapolated that if they managed to sell it for $1 billion, Alakija’s 60 percent stake would be worth at least $7.3 billion.
Iweala claims this and other estimates included in the report are actually ‘on the conservative side’ and said the magazine expects to unearth more African billionaires shortly.
Meanwhile, Africa can boast of 55 billionaires – far more than previously thought – and they’re worth a staggering $143.88 billion in total, according to pan-African magazine Ventures Africa with the overall richest African being Nigerian manufacturer, Aliko Dangote is worth $20.2 billion while Oprah Winfrey is worth $2.9 billion.
It is pertinent to note that Folorunsho Alakija started her career as a secretary in a bank in the mid-1970s, after which she studied fashion in London and then returned to Nigeria to start a label, Supreme Stitches.
Her biggest break, however, came in oil.
In 1993, her company, Famfa Oil, was awarded an oil prospecting license, which later became OML 127, one of the country’s most prolific oil blocks, by then-president Ibrahim Babangida.
The company owned a 60 percent stake in the block until 2000 when the Nigerian government unconstitutionally acquired a 50 percent interest without duly compensating Alakija or Famda Oil.
In May 2012, Alakija, a married mother-of-four, challenged the acquisition and the Nigerian Supreme Court reinstated the 50 percent stake to her company. She also has a charity called the Rose of Sharon Foundation that helps widows and orphans by empowering them through scholarships and business grants.