African millionaires to rise by 65% in 2034 – report

(Last Updated On: 29 April 2024)

The total investable wealth currently held on the African continent amounts to USD 2.5 trillion and its millionaire population is set to rise by 65% over the next 10 years, according to the 2024 Africa Wealth Report, published by international wealth advisory firm Henley & Partners in collaboration with global wealth intelligence partner New World Wealth.

Now in its 9th edition, the annual report reveals that there are currently 135,200 high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) with liquid investable wealth of USD 1 million or more living in Africa, along with 342 centi-millionaires worth USD 100 million or more, and 21 dollar billionaires.

Africa’s ‘Big 5’ wealth markets — South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria, Kenya, and Morocco — together account for 56% of the continent’s millionaires and over 90% of its billionaires.

But, as Dominic Volek, Group Head of Private Clients at Henley & Partners, points out, wealth growth on the continent has not been without its setbacks.

“Currency depreciation and underperforming stock markets have chipped away at Africa’s wealth compared to global benchmarks.

“The South African rand fell 43% against the US dollar from 2013–2023, and even though the JSE All Share Index, which makes up well over half of Africa’s listed company holdings, rose in local currency terms, it was down 5% in US dollar terms over that period.

“Currencies in most other African countries also performed poorly compared to the dollar over the past 10 years, with dramatic depreciations of over 75% recorded in Nigeria, Egypt, Angola, and Zambia.”

Head of Research at New World Wealth, Andrew Amoils, adds that African nations are also losing large numbers of HNWIs to migration which is eroding the continent’s wealth.

“According to our latest figures, approximately 18,700 high-net-worth individuals have left Africa over the past decade (2013 to 2023). There are currently 54 African born billionaires in the world, including one of the world’s richest, Elon Musk, but only 21 of them still live on the continent. Most of these individuals have relocated to the UK, the USA, Australia, and the UAE. Significant numbers have also moved to France, Switzerland, Monaco, Portugal, Canada, New Zealand, and Israel.”

Some of the fastest-growing markets in the world

Despite a tough past decade which saw a 20% decline in its millionaire population, South Africa remains home to over twice as many HNWIs as any other African country, with 37,400 millionaires, 102 centi-millionaires, and 5 billionaires, followed by Egypt with 15,600 millionaires, 52 centi-millionaires, and 7 billionaires.

Nigeria sits in 3rd place with 8,200 HNWIs, followed by Kenya (7,200 millionaires), Morocco (6,800), Mauritius (5,100), Algeria (2,800), Ethiopia (2,700), Ghana (2,700), and Namibia (2,300) all making it into the Top 10 Wealthiest Countries in Africa.

Going forward, over the next decade (to 2033), the likes of Mauritius, Namibia, Morocco, Zambia, Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda are all expected to experience 80%+ millionaire growth.

Mauritius, with its stable governance and favorable tax regime, is projected to experience a remarkable 95% growth rate, positioning it as one of the world’s fastest-growing wealth markets.

Namibia, too, is poised for impressive high-net-worth growth, which is forecast to exceed 85% by 2033. Both Mauritius and Namibia offer investment migration pathways to attract global investors.

Commenting on the 2024 Africa Wealth Report, renowned South African political commentator, newspaper columnist, and best-selling author, Justice Malala, says that with growth projected at 4% by the IMF, Sub-Saharan Africa will be the second-fastest–growing region in the world in 2024, after Asia.

“The African Development Bank predicts that Africa will account for 11 out of the 20 fastest-growing economies in the world this year. And with a new global political order emerging, African voices are also being elevated in international decision-making bodies. With Russia, China, the USA, and the EU all jostling for favor on the continent, African leaders have become more emboldened and are demanding a seat at the top tables.

“These will come with closer relationships between continental leaders and other “middle powers” such as India, Turkey, Argentina, and Saudi Arabia. Already, Ethiopia and Egypt have joined the BRICS grouping and the African Union has become a permanent member of the G20. Previously, only South Africa was in these exclusive clubs.”

Centers of affluence and future pockets of prosperity

At the city level, Johannesburg holds its place as the wealthiest in Africa, with 12,300 millionaires, 25 centi-millionaires, and 2 billionaires. Cape Town follows closely with 7,400 millionaires, 28 centi-millionaires, and 1 billionaire. Cairo (7,200 millionaires), Nairobi (4,400), and Lagos (4,200) also stand out as key urban wealth hubs.

When it comes to future millionaire-magnet cities and regions, Amoils says Cape Town, South Africa’s Whale Coast, Kigali, Windhoek, Swakopmund, Nairobi, Tangier, and Marrakech are all expected to enjoy 85%+ millionaire growth over the next 10 years.

“Solid growth of over 80%+ is also projected in Lusaka and Mombasa. Cape Town is on track to overtake Johannesburg to become Africa’s wealthiest city by 2030. We expect several major Johannesburg-based companies to move their head offices to Cape Town over the next decade, which should help to drive wealth growth in the city.”

Louisa Mojela, Group Chairman of the black women-owned investment firm, WIPHOLD, and Nontobeko Ndhlazi, Group CFO of WIPHOLD, say Africa is undoubtedly open for business. “Known as the continent with both the youngest and fastest-growing population means that Africa naturally holds the greatest potential for investment prospects.

“Additionally, having the dubious honor of also being the poorest continent, it provides the broadest and most fulfilling opportunities for impact investing.”

Africa’s most expensive cities

When it comes to luxury real estate, Cape Town continues to lead the way, with prime residential spaces valued at USD 5,600 per m2. Grand Baie in Mauritius is close behind at USD 5,000 per m2 for a prime 200 to 400m2 apartment.

South Africa has five contenders in Africa’s Top 10 Most Expensive Cities including Plettenberg Bay (2,400 per m2), Hermanus (2,300 per m2), Umhlanga (2,000 per m2), and Sandton (1,800 per m2). Morocco’s Marrakech (2,200 per m2), Tangier (1,600 per m2), and Casablanca (1,400 per m2) all make it into the exclusive club along with Egypt’s capital Cairo (1,500 per m2), which is also one of Africa’s largest cities.

Commenting in the report, Berry Everitt, CEO of the Chas Everitt International property group, describes Africa — and South Africa in particular — as a rising star in the global luxury real estate sector.

 “In contrast to other major economic blocs, the continent has a mostly young and rapidly growing population, as well as a very fast rate of urbanization. This is already generating significant demand for services and products and pulling in an increasing number of HNWIs who are finding lucrative opportunities in the communications, financial services, infrastructure, retail, and manufacturing sectors, as well as in agriculture, logistics, commodities, and both residential and commercial real estate. And this, in turn, is boosting the demand for luxury properties.”

Africa’s lack of economic mobility

As the latest Henley Passport Power Index reveals, the economic mobility of African citizens and their ability to travel internationally without being hampered by lengthy visa applications, possible rejections, and long passport control queues, is significantly constrained by the limitations imposed by their passports.

 Only two African passports ­— Mauritius and Seychelles — enable their holders to access more than 50% of global GDP without having to obtain a visa in advance, despite the fact that the continent boasts some of the most open nations in the world on the Henley Openness Index when it comes to providing visa-free access to other countries.

Chidinma Okebalama, Senior Consultant at Henley & Partners Nigeria, says “your passport serves as a determinant of financial freedom, impacting individuals’ abilities to explore international business ventures, network efficiently, or engage in multi-national trade opportunities.

Consequently, African entrepreneurs and investors are often left out of lucrative global markets, impeding their potential for economic growth and financial prosperity.”

Commenting in the 2024 Africa Wealth Report, part-time Professor at the School of Transnational Governance and Migration Policy Centre and Academic Director of the Young African Leaders Programme at the School of Transnational Governance at the European University Institute, Prof. Mehari Taddele Maru, says African visa applicants face far more severe restrictions compared to those from other regions, resulting in a disproportionately high rejection rate.

 “Africa tops the list of rejections with 30% or one in three of all processed applications being turned down, even though it had the lowest number of visa applications per capita. This was 12.5% higher than the global average. The rejection rates for African applicants for Schengen visas are generally 10% higher than the global average, three times higher than the highest rejection rate, and ten times higher than for US-Americans. Despite justifications based on security or economic concerns, the European visa system clearly demonstrates apparent bias against African applicants.”

Investment migration: A catalyst for growth

Investment migration is emerging as a potential further mechanism to accelerate Africa’s economic growth, according to Volek.

“By offering residence and citizenship by investment opportunities, African countries can attract vital foreign capital, stimulate job creation, and foster knowledge transfer. This not only benefits the host nations but also provides African HNWIs and their families with enhanced global mobility and risk diversification options.

“Despite the challenges, Africa’s potential for wealth creation remains immense. The continent’s youthful and rapidly growing population presents a significant demographic dividend. Strategic investments in education, infrastructure, and technology could unlock human capital and drive sustainable growth.”

Amol Prabhu, Head of Private Banking: Africa at Barclays, agrees that African UHNWIs are increasingly building their lives and legacies along international wealth corridors, shaped not only by their lifestyle and geographic preferences, but also by legal and regulatory frameworks that can facilitate their business and investment strategies.

“It’s increasingly feasible for a set of grandparents (often the originators of the family wealth) to reside somewhere such as Knysna in South Africa, while at least one of their children lives in the UK, another in Dubai, and have extended family (who are all part of the family global business) residing in India or Singapore.”

By Sarah Nicklin, Henley & Partners 

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