Forbes' 2016 List of the World’s Richest People - CNBC Africa

Forbes' 2016 List of the World’s Richest People

Special Report

by Forbes 0

Bill Gates. Photo: Wikipedia

Bill Gates (No. 1) was once again on top as the world’s richest person on FORBES’ 30th annual ranking of the world’s billionaires in the Mar. 21, 2016 issue of Forbes magazine; the technology guru has topped the list for 17 of the last 22 years, with a current net worth of $75 billion, down from $79.2 billion in 2015. Spanish clothing retailer Amancio Ortega (No. 2) (best known for the Zara fashion chain), up two spots, increased his net worth $2.5 billion for a total of $67 billion. Warren Buffett (No. 3) remained in the third spot, despite having his net worth drop $11.9 billion to $60.8 billion. Telecom mogul Carlos Slim Helu (No. 4)dropped two spots, and his net worth decreased to $50 billion from $77.1 billion last year. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos (No. 5) moved up to the fifth from the fifteenth spot last year; his net worth increased to $45.2 billion.

  • 1,810 billionaires (down from 1,826 in 2015) made the list, with an average net worth of $3.58 billion (down $280 million from $3.86 billion in 2015).
  • Added together, the total net worth for this year’s billionaires was $6.48 trillion, down from $7.05 trillion last year.
  • 1,186 members, or roughly two-thirds of the list, were self-made billionaires. 228 inherited their wealth; another 396 inherited at least a portion but are still growing it.
  • There was a scramble at the top of the list this year. Only 2 in last year’s top 20 held onto their ranks: Bill Gates (No. 1) and Warren Buffett (No. 3). Jeff Bezos (No. 5) andMark Zuckerberg (No. 6) move into the top 10 for the first time. Wang Jianlin (No. 18)from China, with $28.7 billion, and Jorge Paulo Lemann (No. 19) from Brazil, with $27.8 billion, made it into the top 20 for the first time. Sheldon Adelson (No. 22) fell out of the top 20.
  • The volatility in global markets had a significant effect on this year’s list.

[READ MORE: The Forbes Billionaires List: 2016] 


  • The biggest gainer on the 2016 list is Mark Zuckerburg (No. 6), whose fortune is up $11.2 billion for a total net worth of $44.6 billion. He is the sixth richest in the world.
  • The biggest loser was Carlos Slim Helú (No. 4), whose fortune dropped from $77.1 billion in 2015 to $50 billion this year.


  • The total number of women on the list is 190, down from 197 in 2015. Thirty-three women are self-made billionaires; the richest is Hong Kong newcomer Zhou Qunfei, whose Lens Technology went public in 2015.
  • The U.S. boasts the most women billionaires on the 2016 list, with 65, followed by Germany with 27, and China with 13. Seven couples on the list share fortunes.
  • Christy Walton (No. 258) is no longer the richest woman, as a result of a split family fortune. The richest woman on the list is now Liliane Bettencourt (No. 11) of France.
  • Christy Walton’s (No. 258) net worth dropped by $36.5 billion to $5.2 billion due to new information obtained detailing how her fortune is split between her and her son, Lukas (No. 99) (worth $10.4 billion); Forbes calls this “a split fortune.”


  • This year 198 billionaires were new to the list, down from the high of 290 newcomers in 2015.
  • China had the most newcomers, adding 70 to the list. Thirty-three newcomers were from the U.S., 8 from India and 28 from Germany.
  • Notable newcomers included the world’s youngest billionaires, Alexandra Andresen, 19, and her sister Katharina Andresen, 20 (both No. 1476) from Norway.
  • Newcomers to the list include: U.K. theater producer Cameron Mackintosh (No. 1476); Pinterest cofounders Evan Sharp (No. 1695) and Ben Silbermann (No. 1121); WeWork cofounders Adam Neumann (No. 1198) and Miguel McKelvey (No. 1694); Flipkart cofounders Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal (No. 1476) of India; and Cheng Wei (No. 1694), cofounder of ride-hailing firm Didi Kuaidi, a Chinese competitor to Uber.
  • The industry with the most newcomers is manufacturing with 39 billionaires, followed by real estate and technology with 21 apiece.
  • California has 131 billionaires, including 9 newcomers.
  • China had the greatest number of drop-offs at 42.
  • Sixty-six billionaires are under 40 this year.
  • Notably missing from this year’s list was U.S. fashion designer Tory Burch, as the value of luxury fashion brands dropped.
  • Another notable drop-off was Jim Koch, as the stock of his Boston Beer Co., owner of Sam Adams, fell.
  • Michael Pearson dropped off the list as Valeant Pharmaceutical was hit by a string of scandals.
  • Ingvar Kamprad, Ikea founder, once the fourth richest in the world, dropped off the list. He shifted his fortune to his three sons, all of whom now appear in the ranks.
  • Altogether, 221 people dropped out of the rankings, while 29 passed away.

[READ MORE: The African king who is the wealthiest person ever]

 By Country

  • The U.S. led with the greatest number of billionaires, with 540, followed by China with 251, Germany with 120, India with 84 and Russia with 77. California has 131 billionaires, including 9 newcomers, and more than any country besides the U.S. and China.
  • Regionally, Asia-Pacific boasted the most billionaires, with 590 billionaires, followed by the United States with 540 and Europe with 489.
  • There are billionaires from 67 countries and territories this year, compared to 70 last year. This year there are no billionaires from Guatemala, Kuwait, Lithuania, St Kitts and Nevis and Uganda.
  • Wealth is stretching to new corners of the world, with one new country, Qatar, represented on the list.