Mr Strive Masiyiwa

Zimbabwean telecoms, media and financial services tycoon, Mr Strive Masiyiwa has become Zimbabwe’s first billionaire.

According to a report by US-based business magazine, Forbes, Masiyiwa, (57) is now worth $1.7 billion (£1.26) and has been named the 14th richest man in Africa.

Mr Masiyiwa was born in Zimbabwe, but 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.

According to Forbes, in 1998, he launched a mobile phone network “at a time when about 70 percent of the country’s population had never heard a ringtone”.

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 philanthropists, 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.

Recently, he has been trying to stem the huge tide of migration from Africa to Europe, urging young people not to risk their lives in crossing the Mediterranean. 

“I understand we face the problem of corruption, bribery, bad policies, but it doesn’t mean you should take to crossing the Sahara or the Mediterranean.

“We see the drownings… in the Mediterranean, young people trying to get to Europe.

“So this is my own way, as we all to try to respond to that crisis, which is to say to young people; “Listen, let’s do something. We can create jobs. You can be entrepreneurs, or you can work for entrepreneurs. You don’t have to take this incredible risk,” says Mr Masiyiwa.

Mr Masiyiwa also serves on a number of international boards, including Unilever, Rockefeller Foundation, the Council on Foreign Relations’ global advisory board, the Africa Progress Panel and the UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board for Sustainable Energy.

-Daily Mail