Telecoms mogul Masiyiwa named UK’s first black billionaire

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Strive Masiyiwa, founder and executive chairman of Econet.
Strive Masiyiwa, founder and executive chairman of Econet.

Zimbabwean-born telecoms mogul Strive Masiyiwa has been named the first black billionaire in the UK.

Masiyiwa, chairman and founder of Econet Group, a telecommunications and technology group with operations and investments in 29 countries in Africa and Europe, appeared on the Sunday Times UK Rich List over the weekend.

The Rich List is based on the newspaper’s estimates of the minimum wealth of Britain's 250 richest people or families, and this year’s list identifies a record 171 UK billionaires.

Masiyiwa’s wealth is estimated to be £1.087 billion, which elevated him into the ranks of Britain’s super-rich.

The 60-year-old businessman, who also chairs Liquid Intelligent Technologies, a pan-African fibre-optic operator, a subsidiary of Econet, was in January also named among Africa’s richest businesspeople.

A month prior, he became the first African to take up a seat on the board of global streaming service company Netflix.

The businessman already serves on several international boards, including Unilever, National Geographic Society, Asia Society, and the Global Advisory boards of Bank of America, the Council on Foreign Relations (in the US), Stanford University, and the Prince of Wales Trust for Africa.

Masiyiwa is also African Union Special Envoy to the continent’s COVID response, appointed by president Cyril Ramaphosa in May 2020.

The telecoms billionaire has also been offering support to Zimbabwe’s healthcare workers after services were cut back because of a lack of personal protection equipment (PPE) to deal with COVID-19.

His assistance to Zimbabwe includes PPE, cash, life and health insurance, and transport for nurses and doctors. The insurtech unit of Cassava Smartech Zimbabwe, which is part of Masiyiwa’s Econet Group, is overseeing the Zimbabwe programme.

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