How long it would take SA’s richest man to spend his money

The average billionaire could stretch their wealth over a decade, spending $1 million a day – with the world’s richest man, Bill Gates, able to stretch his current net worth over 228 years.

This is according to findings by charity organisation, Oxfam, in a report highlighting the “massive inequality” between the rich and poor across the globe.

The Oxfam report notes that 85 of the richest people in the world have the same wealth as the poorest half of the global population, approximately 3.5 billion people.

According to Oxfam, if the world’s 10 richest people had to spend ‘only’ $1 million a day, it would take between 100 and 200 years to use up their individual wealth.

The latest data available on the Bloomberg’s billionaire’s list shows that the world’s richest man, Bill Gates, could stretch out his total wealth over 228 years, spending $1 million a day.

Top 10 billionaires

Billionaire Net Worth (US$bn)
Years ($1m/d)
Bill Gates 83.2 228
Carlos Slim 78.0 213
Warren Buffett 68.5 187
Ortega 58.7 161
Koch 52.1 143
Koch 52.1 143
Larry Ellison 42.9 117
Kamprad 42.0 115
Walton 38.4 105
Walton 37.0 101

Oxfam’s data finds that these billionaires are earning between $2 million and $12 million per day, based on ordinary (1.95%) and average billionaire (5.3%) interest rates.

The Billionaire Census compiled by Wealth-X, notes that there are 2,325 dollar billionaires in the world, which have a total net worth of $7.3 trillion – up 12% from $6.5 trillion in 2013 – averaging $3.15 billion per person.

Using Oxfam’s measure, the average billionaire would thus be able to spend $1 million a day for close to nine years.

South African Billionaires

The problem of inequality and wealth disparity is not just a “rich country” problem, Oxfam said.

According to its report, there are 16 billionaires in sub-Saharan Africa (10 of which are in South Africa, according to Wealth-X), alongside the 358 million people living in extreme poverty.

“From Ghana to Germany, South Africa to Spain, the gap between rich and poor
is rapidly increasing, and economic inequality has reached extreme levels,” Oxfam said.

“In South Africa, inequality is greater today than at the end of Apartheid.”

While South Africa’s richest couldn’t stretch their wealth hundreds of years in dollar terms, the country’s richest man, according to Forbes, could still spend $1 million dollars a day for the next 21 years.

Billionaire Net Worth (US$bn) Years ($1m/d)
Johan Rupert 7.6 21
Nicky Oppenheimer 6.7 18
Christo Wiese 3.2 9
Patrice Motsepe 2.7 7
Koos Bekker 1.3 4
Allan Gray 1.3 4
Stephen Saad 1.3 4
Desmond Sacco 1.3 4

In rand terms, however, the local billionaires would be able to extend their wealth for much longer – to the point where it would take Rupert 228 years (the same as Bill Gates, using dollar terms) to expend his current net worth.

In rands, Bill Gates could spend R1 million a day for two and a half millennia (2,496 years).

Billionaire Net Worth (ZARbn) Years (ZAR1m/d)
Johan Rupert 83.2 228
Nicky Oppenheimer 73.4 201
Christo Wiese 35.0 96
Patrice Motsepe 29.7 81
Koos Bekker 14.2 39
Allan Gray 14.2 39
Stephen Saad 14.2 39
Desmond Sacco 14.2 39

“Some inequality is necessary to reward talent, skills and a willingness to innovate and take entrepreneurial risk,” the group noted.

“However, today’s extremes of economic inequality undermine growth and progress, and fail to invest in the potential of hundreds of millions of people.”

Oxfam acknowledges that super wealthy individuals, such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are also massive contributors to international welfare, donating as much as half their wealth to charities.

In 2013, the top 50 American contributors made donations totaling $7.7 billion, and made additional pledges of $2.9 billion.

However, Oxfam supports the call for bigger taxes for people who earn over $1 million, saying that “the number of billionaires and their combined wealth has increased so rapidly that in 2014 a tax of 1.5% could fill the annual gaps in funding needed to get every child into school and to deliver health services in those poorest countries.”

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How long it would take SA’s richest man to spend his money