from Africa in Transition and Africa Program

Rich People and Wealth in Africa

Visitors walk past a reception with an electronic board displaying movements in major indices at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange building in Sandton, Johannesburg, South Africa, August 22, 2019. Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

October 10, 2019

Visitors walk past a reception with an electronic board displaying movements in major indices at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange building in Sandton, Johannesburg, South Africa, August 22, 2019. Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters
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Rich people are everywhere, and they can have something to say about the level of economic development in their home countries. Afrasia Bank and New World Wealth have just published the 2019 Africa Wealth Report, which includes North Africa and African island states in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. It identifies the continent’s six wealthiest cities, defined as total individual private wealth—equities, real estate, businesses—less liabilities. They are Johannesburg, Cape Town, Cairo, Lagos, Durban, and Nairobi.

Three of the six cities are in South Africa, which, notwithstanding the smaller island nations, is the continent’s most developed, with a highly diversified economy increasingly based on knowledge. Wealth in Lagos tends to be tied directly or indirectly to oil and financial services. Nairobi, for its part, is a major regional economic hub for east Africa. In the South African cites, rich people are concentrated in certain suburbs (Sandton for Johannesburg or Clifton and Bishopscourt for Cape Town, for example) rather than in the center; in Lagos, wealth is concentrated on Victoria Island and its extensions and Ikoyi; In Nairobi, Karin. The report finds that total wealth over the past decade has increased by 14 percent, but its growth has been held back by relatively weak economic performances in South Africa, Nigeria, and Egypt.

More on:

Sub-Saharan Africa

Inequality

South Africa

Nigeria

The report finds that there are twenty-three billionaires living in Africa. The report identifies Mauritius as having the highest per capita wealth, at $31,000, with South Africa second, at $11,500. In general, Africa is a continent of extreme inequality, which reduces the utility of average per capita wealth calculations. South Africa, despite its wealth, is ranked as the most unequal country in the world. About 42 percent of total wealth in Africa is held by 140,000 high net-worth individuals, defined as those with assets of at least $1 million. Even the richest of African cities are home to great numbers of people living in poverty. Lagos, the fourth wealthiest city in Africa, is also one of the poorest cities in the world in a country with the largest absolute number of people in poverty.
 

More on:

Sub-Saharan Africa

Inequality

South Africa

Nigeria

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