Folorunsho Alakija unseats Oprah Winfrey as the richest black woman in the world

62 year old oil tycoon and fashionista, Folorunsho Alakija has reportedly unseat media executive, actress, talk show host, television producer, and philanthropist, Oprah Winfrey

According to American business magazine, Forbes magazine, 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 per cent 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 per cent 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 expect to unearth more African billionaires shortly.

Meanwhile, Africa boasts 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 who is worth a whopping $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 per cent stake in the block until 2000 when the Nigerian government unconstitutionally acquired a 50 per cent 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 per cent 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.

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