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Billionaire Cities and the Unequal Distribution of Wealth in Africa

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Billionaire Cities and the Unequal Distribution of Wealth in Africa

The total number of wealthy residents in Africa is projected to decline by 12 % between 2012 and 2022. This trend will be driven by growth in the continent’s three largest markets: South Africa, Egypt, and Nigeria.

Number of millionaires in Africa

Africa’s largest private wealth is concentrated in just 5 countries. These are South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria, Kenya, and Morocco, which account for 56 % of the total. These countries are also home to over 90% of the continent’s billionaires.

Africa’s « big five » private wealth markets

South Africa is home to the largest number of wealthy residents, accounting for 30 % of the continent’s largest private wealth. The country boasts 37,800 residents with at least one private fortune worth more than 1 million USD. The significant presence of centi-millionaires, individuals with assets totaling at least 100 million USD, is also noteworthy.

Egypt ranks second after South Africa but has the highest number of wealthy individuals reaching the billion-dollar mark. With 54 centi-millionaires, 16,100 millionaires, and 8 billionaires, Egypt is a major player. Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, is home to 9,831 wealthy individuals, including 4 billionaires, 27 centi-millionaires, and 9,800 dollar millionaires.

Despite the absence of billionaires, Kenya is home to 7,700 millionaires and 15 centi-millionaires. The country aims to become a leading hub for technological and digital innovation, positioning itself as a gateway to nearly 500 million consumers. Kenya represents a thriving innovation ecosystem that is conducive to technology investment.

Morocco has 4 billionaires and 28 centi-millionaires, more than Nigeria. Over the past 22 years, the Kingdom of Morocco has opened up to inclusive economic partnerships. Through its New Development Model (NMD), Morocco is seeking to intensify its efforts to attract foreign investment. The aim is to stimulate development, reduce social inequalities, and create more opportunities for entrepreneurs.

Top 10 richest countries in Africa

Over the same period, Rwanda experienced the most significant growth in the number of wealthy residents in the region, with an increase of 72 %. Mauritius follows closely behind, despite its small population and size. Seychelles, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) follow. Morocco and Kenya also saw significant increases. Ethiopia and Ghana, on the other hand, saw a slight decline in the number of wealthy individuals.

Distribution of Africa’s Richest Cities

The ranking of Africa’s richest cities is based on the private wealth of the entire resident population. It excludes public funds and other assets such as real estate, cash, shares, and business interests.

Record in South Africa

Johannesburg tops the list of Africa’s richest cities with a total wealth of 226 billion USD. More specifically, it is the Sandton suburb that concentrates 40 % of South Africa’s billionaires and the majority of its wealth. Recognized as the richest square mile on the continent, this suburb is also the center of South African business. Sandton is home to the JSE, the continent’s largest stock exchange, and the headquarters of most of Africa’s largest companies.

Home to 20 % of South Africa’s billionaires, Cape Town ranks second in this ranking. The city is home to 123 billion USD in wealth and some of the most exclusive suburbs in the African region. It is mainly focused on real estate and fund management but also includes various sectors related to luxury living.

The coastal city of Durban, fifth on the list, accumulated nearly 55 billion USD in wealth. Paarl, Franschhoek, and Stellenbosch together form one of the country’s fastest-growing regions for individuals with a wealth of 1 million USD. These cities have a combined wealth of 47 billion USD and rank seventh in this ranking. In eighth place is South Africa’s administrative capital, Pretoria, with a total wealth of 42 billion USD.

Unequal distribution of wealth

Cairo ranks third among Africa’s richest cities, with a total wealth of 118 billion USD. It’s worth noting that the Egyptian capital has more billionaires than any South African metropolis. Its main business sectors include financial services, telecommunications, retail, tourism, and basic materials. Lagos, Africa’s most populous city, ranks fourth. Nigeria’s economic capital boasts 2 billionaires and about 5,400 millionaires, concentrating an estimated 88 billion USD in wealth. The city’s main industries are oil, gas, and basic materials.

In sixth place is the capital of Kenya. Nairobi’s total wealth is 47 billion USD, and the city also boasts the world’s fastest-growing economy. Major industries include financial services, real estate, tourism, media, clothing, textiles, processed foods, beverages, and cigarettes.

In ninth place is Casablanca, with an estimated wealth of 39 billion USD. This city is home to many wealthy people, including 2,300 millionaires and 2 billionaires whose wealth is estimated in dollars. Accra, the capital of Ghana, rounds out the list in tenth place with a total wealth of 32 billion USD. It should be noted that no city in Mauritius appears in this ranking due to its small population.

Economic Contribution of African Billionaires

To compare a country’s level of prosperity on a global scale, economists use national gross domestic product (GDP). GDP per capita, on the other hand, is used to assess the wealth of a country’s population. In this context, the island nation of Seychelles is the wealthiest in the African region, with a GDP per capita of 15,874 USD in 2022. However, this measure does not take into account income inequality, which is very prevalent in African countries. This justifies South Africa’s low GDP per capita of 6,776 USD in the same year, even though the country concentrates the largest number of wealthy residents.

It is important to note that not all of Africa’s wealthy contribute to the continent’s economic growth. Many settle abroad, notably in England, where they spend as much as 900 million USD on London homes. For comparison, Sudan-born billionaire Mo Ibrahim is a British citizen. South African Nathan Kirsh and Egyptian Mohamed Al-Fayed live in London. As of January 13, 2023, the combined wealth of Africa’s top 10 tycoons was 81.5 billion USD. This ranking only includes the fortunes of African individuals who reside or conduct their primary business in the ranking.

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