Nigerian Oil Tycoon, Alakija, Becomes World’s Richest Black Woman

Two weeks ago, Folorunsho Alakija, put her name on the world map by joining the billionaire’s boys club in Africa.

She was not the only woman to break into the very elusive  and exclusive club of persons living in riches; she was joined by Isabel dos Santos of Angola.

She can boast to be a ‘bigger man’ than the likes of Jim Ovia, Abdulsamad Rabiu and a handful of retired generals living on government patronage.

With a wealth estimated to be at about $3.3 billion, only Africa’s wealthiest man, Aliko Dangote, and business mogul, Mike Adenuga, can claim to possess more coins than her within Nigeria’s border.

But it is beyond the shores of Nigeria that she is now making waves. Alakija has officially dethroned America’s entertainment icon, Oprah Winfrey, as the richest black woman in the world.

Winfrey, previously the only black woman in Forbes rich list, is a media mogul, television host, actress, producer and philanthropist. While Alakija’s wealth is attributed to oil and gas, she has had to work her way to where she is.

Alakija Takes Oprah’s Place As World’s Richest Black Woman
Oprah Winfrey has reportedly lost her long-held title as the richest black woman in the world to a Nigerian oil tycoon.

According to an African business magazine, Ventures Africa, Folorunsho Alakija, a 61-year-old woman from Nigeria who arguably worths $3.3 billion, or roughly $500 million more than Oprah’s $2.7 billion net worth, has comfortably edged Oprah out.

Alakija is the founder and owner of Famfa Oil, which owns a 60 per cent interest in OML 127, an offshore oil field which produces roughly 200,000 barrels of oil per day and is worth an estimated $6.44 billion.

A fashion designer and philanthropist, Alakija is married and blessed with sons, as well as a grandchild. She owns at least $100 million in real estate and $46 million private jet, Ventures Africa has reported.

Born into a wealthy Nigerian family, Alakija started out as a secretary in the mid-1970s at the now defunct International Merchant Bank of Nigeria.

Several years later, she quit her job and moved to London, where she studied fashion design. She later returned to Nigeria and launched her fashion line, Supreme Stitches, which catered to upscale, high-society women.

While she was building her name as a fashion designer, Alakija in 1993 applied for an Oil Prospecting License - an expensive permit that allows for oil exploration in a specified area.

The Nigerian government granted her request and allocated a 617,000-acre block of land to Alakija for oil exploration -- but she knew nothing about finding and extracting oil.

So in September of 1996, she appointed Star Deep Water Petroleum Limited, a subsidiary of Texaco to act as a technical adviser for her business.

In 2000, Star Deep Petroleum determined that Alakija’s land contained an excess of one billion barrels of oil. When this was discovered, the Nigerian government tried to re-acquire half of the oil-rich block it had sold to Alakija.

The Nigerian government was successful and Alakija lost control of all but 10 percent of her oil company until 2012, when Nigeria’s highest court reversed the government’s actions.

With Alakija now back in control of 60 per cent of the oil company, her net worth has shot up to $3.2 billion, an estimate that Ventures Africa calls extremely conservative.

Alakija’s sons now run Famfa Oil, with her husband, Modupe Alakija as the chairman.

She recently purchased a $102 million property at One Hyde Park in London, as well as a Bombardier Global Express 6000 jet, which she bought earlier this year for $46 million.

Her charity, Rose of Sharon Foundation, gives out small grants to widows and orphans.
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