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Strive Masiyiwa, 60, is named as first black billionaire by Sunday Times Rich List

Britain’s first black billionaire: London-based telecoms tycoon, 60, who fled Zimbabwe and is now trying to provide Africa with Covid vaccines while sitting on Netflix and Unilever boards

  • Strive Masiyiwa has become a billionaire according to Sunday Times Rich List
  • The 60-year-old is a London-based telecoms tycoon who was born in Zimbabwe
  • He is on boards of Netflix and Unilever and is African Union’s pandemic envoy 
  • The tycoon recently agreed a deal for 400 million Covid jab doses for Africa 

A telecoms tycoon who fled unrest in Zimbabwe, took on Robert Mugabe in order to start his businesses, and is now helping to provide Covid vaccines to Africa, has been named the first black billionaire.

London-based Strive Masiyiwa, 60, has clinched the accolade according to the Sunday Times Rich List.

However the Zimbabwe-born businessman, who sits on the boards of Netflix and Unilever, has a more pressing goal in mind – attempting get Covid vaccines to Africa.

Mr Masiyiwa is currently the African Union’s special envoy on the pandemic.

And he has recently secured 400 million doses of the Covid vaccine for the continent – home to 1.3billion people.

London-based Strive Masiyiwa, 60, has clinched the accolade according to the Sunday Times Rich List 

Mr Masiyiwa rise to wealth is a remarkable one, with his parents having fled Rhodesia when he was a child. 

He was born in 1961 in the country – now Zimbabwe. When he was seven his parents fled the country amid the unrest the country’s declaration of independence from Britain.

Mr Masiyiwa moved to the UK as a child, attended secondary school in Scotland and has an engineering degree from the University of Wales.

Upon returning to Zimbabwe in 1984, Mr Masiyiwa began working in telecoms and set up Econet in 1993.

In 1998, despite opposition from the now-ousted dictator Robert Mugabe he launched a mobile phone network ‘at a time when 70 per cent of the country inhabitants had never heard a ringtone’, according to Forbes.

The Econet Wireless group now operates in Africa, Europe, South America and the East Asia Pacific Rim, with Mr Masiyiwa living in London as of 2010.

Mr Masiyiwa is also known as one of the most prolific African philantropists, focusing in particular on young people.

He founded the Higherlife Foundation together with his wife Tsitsi, which pays school fees for some 40,000 students in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Burundi and Lesotho who are either orphaned or from low-income families.

They also established the Ambassador Andrew Young Scholarship, which enables African students to attend the Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, US. 

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