KEY POINTS

  • Nicky Oppenheimer is richest person in South Africa
  • He has a net worth of $7.6 billion
  • Oppenheimer is the third generation chairman of DeBeers

The richest person in South Africa is none other than Nicky Oppenheimer who has a net worth of $7.6 billion.

South Africa is home to a lot of billionaires. In 2017, there were about 25 of them living on the continent. Most of the billionaires there have businesses that deal with construction, mining and service industry, per Business Insider. Compared to the other cash kings at Silicon Valley or in the U.S. who made it big using technology, the African billionaires utilized the vast natural resources of their country and provided jobs to fellow countrymen. South Africa’s wealthy list also includes Aliko Dangote, Onsi Sawiris, Anton and Johann Rupert and Mike Adenuga. 

Oppenheimer came from a family that has had a stronghold of the diamond industry in South Africa for many decades. He currently serves as chairman of DeBeers, one of the world’s largest diamond producers. Nicky Oppenheimer’s great grandfather Ernest Oppenheimer started the Anglo-American Corporation in 1917. He would later become chairman of DeBeers. 

South Africa’s natural resources cannot be underestimated. It is home to vast reserves of valuable minerals such as gold, silver, platinum, nickel and coal, among others. 

There was a shift in management in 2005 in DeBeers. According to Forbes, the company sold 26 percent of its stake to a black empowerment group that was mandated by the South African government at that time. The legislation aimed to empower the black community in South Africa where the foreigners or white people still control a large part of the nation’s wealth and businesses.   

The Oxford graduate also sold his 40 percent stake to Anglo American for at least $5 billion in 2012. He invested some of it on Fireblade Aviation in Johannesburg which provides charter flights to clients. The fleet has three planes and two helicopters, as reported in another Forbes article. 

Aside from managing different ventures, the 75-year-old billionaire is an avid fan of opera and theatre. On the personal side, he is married with a son named Jonathan Oppenheimer who serves as E Oppenheimer & Son Ltd. director. 

The DeBeers heir is one of the first persons to provide help amid the ongoing pandemic. Back in March, Nicky Oppenheimer started the South Africa Future Trust which will provide assistance to business owners affected by the health crisis. The South Africa Future Trust gives loans without interest. 

South Africa is facing a hard time defeating the pandemic. It has 197,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of July 2020 with more than 93,000 patients recovered. Wealthy business owners who have more to spare like the Oppenheimer family are encouraged to give back and help out fellow countrymen in this uncertain time.