How rich is South Africa?

South Africa’s Ultra High Net Worth (UHNW) population has grown over the past year, and now accounts for almost 20% of the country’s total wealth.

According to the 2014 Wealth-X Ultra Wealth Report, South Africa is the 33rd richest country in terms of the population worth more than US$30 million – the highest ranking African country.

South Africa is home to 835 UHNW individuals – up 7.7% from 775 individuals in 2013 – worth US$112 billion.

This represents 17.8% of South Africa’s total wealth, which the research group lists at US$630 billion.

“South Africa remains Africa’s largest UHNW country, accounting for just under 30% of the region’s total UHNW population,” Wealth-X said.

“One of the reasons why South Africa has long been Africa’s wealthiest economy is its relatively developed financial infrastructure. In fact, the financial sector accounts for almost a quarter of South Africa’s GDP, and over 30% of the country’s UHNW population have derived their fortunes from this sector.”

Top 10 UHNW countries in the world 2014

Country UHNW population UHNW wealth Population change Wealth change
United States 69,560 9,630 6.2% 6.0%
Germany 19,095 2,580 7.2% 10.0%
Japan 14,720 2,430 3.2% 4.1%
United Kingdom 11,510 1,445 5.5% 5.1%
China 11,070 1,565 3.7% 3.3%
India 8,595 1,013 9.5% 8.3%
Switzerland 6,635 790 4.8% 5.3%
Canada 5,305 635 6.5% 6.7%
France 4,750 565 5.8% 7.6%
Brazil 4,225 820 5.2% 6.5%

In the UHNW population break-down, the group noted that 77% of SA’s super wealthy are self-made, with only 6% claiming their fortunes from inheritance. 17% of the UHNW group gained wealth from both inheritance and their own ventures.

This self-made wealth helped most of the country’s wealthy avoid significant impact from high inflation, government debt and the end of American financial stimulus, which negatively impacted the country’s economy, Wealth-X noted.

“In fact, for some UHNW individuals, the decrease in the value of the South African rand helped boost revenue, as exports became more competitive.”

South Africa ranks ahead of other African nations such as Nigeria (2nd, with 645 UHNWIs), Egypt (3rd, 595), Kenya (4th, 170) and Tanzania (5th, 120).

Africa has 3,005 super wealthy individuals, worth over US$395 billion.

The continent has the fewest UHNWIs and the least UHNW wealth, but along with the Middle East showed the largest growth in the past year.

Global Ultra Wealth Population
Global Ultra Wealth Population map

Top UHNWI countries in Africa 2014

Country UHNW population
UHNW wealth (US$ billion)
Population change
Wealth change
South Africa 835 112 7.7% 12.0%
Egypt 645 90 7.5% 12.5%
Nigeria 595 80 16.7% 23.1%
Kenya 170 20 9.7% 11.1%
Tanzania 120 16 4.3% 6.7%
Angola 115 15 4.5% 7.1%
Tunisia 65 8 0.0% 0.0%
Libya 65 8 0.0% 0.0%
Ethiopia 60 7 9.1% 0.0%
Morocco 35 8 0.0% 0.0%
Algeria 35 5 0.0% 60.0%
Rest of Africa 265 26 3.9% 0.0%
Africa total 3,005 395 8.3% 12.9%

Lagos, Nigeria, is the top African city for UHNWIs, with 520 super wealthy people calling it home. Johannesburg and Cairo rank as the next top two cities in Africa for UHNWI’s, with each city home to 450 and 445 super wealthy individuals, respectively.

Top 5 UHNWI cities in Africa 2014

# City Country UHNW population
1 Lagos Nigeria 520
2 Johannesburg South Africa 450
3 Cairo Egypt 445
4 Cape Town South Africa 150
5 Nairobi Kenya 135

More on the super wealthy

SA dollar millionaires vs Africa

Top cities for South Africa’s dollar millionaires

Where South Africa’s multi-millionaires live

South African dollar millionaires hits 49,000

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How rich is South Africa?