Number of African-born millionaires to skyrocket over next decade: report

By Zeenat Hansrod - RFI
Europe Getty Images - Per-Anders Pettersson
Getty Images - Per-Anders Pettersson

Africa's millionaire population is expected to rise by 65 percent within the next 10 years, a report published this week has found. The new recruits to the rich club will come from the fintech and the media sector, says analysis from the Africa Wealth Report.

"Fintech is one of the fast growing sectors they'll choose, as well as business process outsourcing, green tech, media and entertainment," said Dominic Volek, the group head of private clients at Henley and Partners, the company that published the Africa Wealth Report.

"Ecotourism and sustainable projects looking to better the life of those living in Africa are also sectors they are keen to invest into."

Africa is home to 135,200 millionaires and 21 billionaires, measured in US dollars. If projections prove correct, that number will rise to around 220,000 by 2033.

The five African states that account for the largest share of the continent's millionaires are (in order of the number of high-net-worth individuals) South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria, Kenya and Morocco.

They collectively account for 56 percent of Africa's high-net-worth individuals and more than 90 percent of its billionaires.

South Africa leads with 37,400 millionaires and five billionaires while Egypt's wealth is in the hands of seven billionaires and 15,600 millionaires.

“The 'big five' are the five most developed countries in terms of infrastructure with much more advanced economies when you compare them to other African countries,” Volek added.

Henley and Partners, with 55 offices worldwide, specialises in advising very rich individuals around the world requiring residence and citizenship by investments.

Africa's wealthiest

Johannesburg is home to the wealthiest in Africa with 12,300 millionaires and two billionaires.

“If you look globally, there are about 54 African-born billionaires around the world, one of them being Elon Musk from South Africa. But, out of the 54, only 21 percent still live on the continent,” Volek added.

Almost half of the African-born billionaires have left the continent and moved to places such as Switzerland, Singapore or Monaco or the United States.

They want to have a better quality of life, better education for their children, better healthcare, better business opportunities.

“But, Africa is a continent that stays close to one's heart,” Volek told RFI.

“A lot of millionaires from the continent do feel the need to reinvest some of their fortune back into their home country.

Tax incentives

The jurisdictions that typically attract millionaires are those that offer attractive fiscal policies such as Mauritius, said Volek.

According to the report, Mauritius's high growth rate made it the third fastest growing market in the world for millionaires, from 2013 to 2023.

Over the next decade to 2033, the likes of Mauritius, Namibia, Morocco, Zambia, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda are expected to experience an 80 percent growth in the number of millionaires.

Through their investment migration programmes, Namibia and Mauritius are two of the countries in southern Africa that have interesting options for high net-worth individuals to invest into.

And, in return the country gives them some form of residency rights.

For a minimum investment of 375,000 US dollars in real state, the government allows foreign investors to obtain a residence permit in Mauritius.

“If millionaires move into a country, they'll be looking to invest in that country. They'll be typically investing in businesses, buying real estate and other luxury goods that add to the GDP of that country,” said Volek.

According to economist Myriam Blin, attracting high-wealth individuals to Mauritius has indeed boosted the real estate sector and this has led to increased inflows of foreign direct investment (FDI) in real estate.

"However, investment in real estate does not contribute to the productive capacity and innovation of a country to the same extent as FDI in industry would," Blin added.

Namibia offers interesting investment opportunities in its offshore oil and gas explorations. It is also poised to become a leader in green hydrogen production, making the sector a profitable source of investment.

“With the millionaires' physical migration, there comes along significant consumption and investment,” Volnek said.