During an interview with Luisa Kroll of FORBES last year, Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote hinted that there are a considerable number of unknown African philanthropists who prefer to shun conspicuous philanthropy, opting instead to give anonymously- possibly for spiritual or personal reasons. This could be true, but then again, it could be a myth. We can never know for sure that Africa’s rich are actually giving back if we cannot track or verify their philanthropy.
We love to keep track, so here’s a list of 9 immensely wealthy, notable African philanthropists who publicly stated that they gave $1 million or more during the course of 2012 to causes ranging from Nigerian flood relief efforts to scholarships and healthcare. Of course, this is not an exhaustive list, but this takes into account the Africans who gave publicly in 2012. To create the list, I scoured databases, news reports and foundation filings and verified with the givers themselves or their representatives.
These are some of the most generous African philanthropists of 2012:
President, Dangote Group
Estimated Giving: $35 million
Africa’s richest man was the continent’s most generous philanthropist last year, giving away an estimated $35 million. In November, in the wake of a cataclysmic flood in Nigeria that killed close to 400 people and left more than 2 million people homeless, Aliko Dangote announced a flood relief fund contribution of $15.8 million (N2.5 billion) to the Nigerian government’s relief efforts. Last year, Dangote also donated $6.3 million to 6 Nigerian universities, including a $3.1 million gift to fund the development of the Bayero State University Business School in Kano, the state where Dangote was born. Other gifts included a $500,000 donation to victims of munitions blasts in Congo and a $12.6 million donation to a non-governmental organization committed to developing low-cost housing for Nigeria’s urban poor.
Jim Ovia, Nigeria
Founder, Zenith Bank
Total estimated giving: $6.6 million
Like Dangote, the Nigerian banking and telecoms magnate also donated N1 billion ($6.3 million) to assist the Nigerian government in its relief efforts for the rehabilitation of victims of the various flood disasters across Nigeria last year. Ovia is also the founder and financier of the Youth Empowerment & ICT Foundation, a non-governmental organization which encourages young Nigerians to embrace information & communication technology (ICT) as a tool for socio-economic change. Last year, the foundation gave a N50 million ($320,000) grant to ten young Nigerian techpreneurs to develop their individual tech businesses.
Strive Masiyiwa, Zimbabwe
Founder, Econet Wireless
Estimated Giving: $6.4 million
In May 2012, Zimbabwe’s richest man and Econet Wireless founder Strive Masiyiwa was awarded an honorary doctorate by Morehouse College in recognition for his philanthropic and humanitarian work across the African continent. When he accepted the honor, the telecoms tycoon promised to sponsor at least 10 African students to attend the historically black college. In September 2012, the Zimbabwean multimillionaire fulfilled his promise by establishing a $6.4 million trust for the sole purpose of sponsoring at least 40 African undergraduates to Morehouse College over a four-year period. Masiyiwa also funds the Capernaum Trust, a Zimbabwe-registered Christian charity that sponsors scholarships and medical assistance for over 28,000 orphaned Zimbabwean children.
Tony Elumelu, Nigeria
Chairman, Heirs Holdings
Estimated Giving: $6.3 million
The revered Nigerian banker and former CEO of the United Bank of Africa was one of the largest donors to the Nigerian government’s relief efforts for the rehabilitation of victims of a series of flood disasters across the country. Elumelu donated N1 billion ($6.3 million) through his Tony Elumelu Foundation whose primary mandate is to enhance the competitiveness and growth of Africa’s private sector by grooming young African entrepreneurs.