Chris BishopBy Chris Bishop|May 22, 2021|5 Minutes|In Billionaire Watch

Billionaire Watch

Its electric as Musk sparks speculation frenzy

It says something about the power of an African-born billionaire that a mere plane journey can spark widespread speculation

This is what happened when South African-born billionaire Elon Musk – worth more than $148 billion according to Forbes – took the plane from California to Luton Airport in England in the last week in May. No sooner had he landed, journalists were writing about the possibility of Musk reigniting his plans to invest in Britain.

Musk put forward plans to build a research plant near Bristol for his Tesla electric cars operation in 2014. By 2019, Musk had decided that Brexit – with all of its costs and administration brought on by the estrangement with Europe – had made the Tesla factory in Britain too expensive and complicated.

Yet the British press went mad with speculation as soon as Musk’s private jet touched down in Luton.

“Elon Musk UK visit drives Tesla factory rumours,” said the BBC.

Musk and the British government – which is hungry for foreign investment after breaking ties with Europe – said little, but the press was saying a lot.

“Is Elon Musk about to U-turn on a Tesla factory in Britain?” said the Times of London.

Days into the visit came another twist. Musk took part in an online talk about the future of space with the Russians in a webinar sponsored by the Kremlin.

“Now Musk eyes Russia for Tesla factory” was the next headline in the Times.

“I think we’re close to establishing a Tesla presence in Russia, and I think that would be great,” Musk, 49, said yesterday. “Over time, we will look to have factories in other parts of the world, potentially Russia at some point.”

Nice try Boris Johnson and post Brexit Britain.

Another African billionaire is investing his money in a giant four-legged asset with horns like huge handlebars. We are talking about sought after Ankole cattle – that hail from Uganda – that sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars a time. Apparently, the wider the horns, the bigger the price.

Mining magnate Patrice Motsepe – worth an estimated $3 billion – helicoptered into the first ever auction of Ankole in South Africa, in May, to bid for one of the cattle. On the day, the rich and the famous spent R10 million (more than $500,000) on mighty, horned, beasts.

A quarter of the animals sold came from the herd of the South African head of state President Cyril Ramaphosa, who was also at the auction. For years, he has made headlines every time he has bought and sold the animals.

President Ramaphosa – who made a fortune from mining – is a canny investor and businessman as well as a skilled politician and negotiator. He came across Ankole cattle on a visit to President Yoweri Museveni, in Uganda, back in 2004 and decided he wanted to introduce the beasts to South Africa.

The problem was that disease control regulations made it difficult, so President Ramaphosa chose to import the embryos of the animals to breed his own herd.

Just one of the ways that Africa can see continental cooperation give birth to new industries thanks to a brainwave from a former billionaire turned president and a majestic beast with massive horns that mean money.  In the year that the African Continental Free Trade Area was born – promising to increase intra-African trade by bringing down barriers – maybe it is a story that could set many entrepreneurs thinking.  It should.

“Everybody is looking to a brighter future with someone with new ideas. Motsepe can’t afford to fail.” 

“I think Patrice Motsepe had the pedigree as a leader and businessman to lead CAF right now,”