How long it would take South Africa’s billionaires to spend all their money

Forbes recently published its billionaire list for 2018, revealing that 2,208 people in the world are now worth $9.1 trillion.

When it comes to money, speaking in terms of trillions and billions is often lost on those of us of more humble means, and it moves into the realm of incomprehensible when considering the world’s super rich could spend double your annual salary in a day, and not really feel a pinch.

One way to put billionaire wealth into a context most people can understand, is looking at how long their wealth would last when spending a smaller, fixed amount each day.

In previous years, think tank Oxfam adopted this simple metric to put extreme wealth in context of wage disparity – by calculating how long it would take the world’s richest people to spend their current level wealth, if they had to spend $1 million every day.

Using this metric, with an average net worth of $4.1 billion per person, the average billionaire would be able to continue spending $1 million a day over 11 years, before their wealth dried up.

With a net worth of $112 billion, founder Jeff Bezos – the world’s richest man and the world’s first centibillionaire – would be able to keep spending this way 307 years.

This is how long the world’s richest people could continue spending $1 million a day, based on the current Forbes ranking.

# Billionaire 2018 Net Worth (US$bn) Years ($1 million a day)
1 Jeff Bezos 112.0 307
2 Bill Gates 90.0 247
3 Warren Buffet 84.0 230
4 Bernard Arnault 72.0 197
5 Mark Zuckerberg 71.0 195
6 Amancio Ortega 70.0 192
7 Carlos Slim Helu 67.1 184
8 Charles Koch 60.0 167
8 David Koch 60.0 167
10 Larry Ellison 58.5 160

South Africa’s billionaires

Among South African billionaires the picture is similar, but spending $1 million a day is a tougher ask, thanks to the exchange rate. The country’s richest man, Nicky Oppenheimer’s $7.7 billion fortune would ‘only’ stretch on for 21 years in dollar terms.

On the opposite end of the scale, pharmaceutical tycoon Stephen Saad could only spend $1 million a day for 3 years.

# Billionaire 2018 Net Worth (US$bn) Years ($1 million a day)
202 Nicky Oppenheimer 7.7 21
228 Johann Rupert 7.0 19
924 Koos Bekker 2.6 7
1020 Patrice Motsepe 2.4 6
1867 Stephen Saad 1.2 3

However, bringing the daily spend down to R1 million a day for a South African context, would make Oppenheimer’s fortune last 252 years – about the same as the global elite. Saad’s wealth would also extend to 39 years.

Of course, if Jeff Bezos had to live on R1 million a day, he would be able to keep up that spending habit for three and a half millennia (3,664 years) – while the average global billionaire would be able to do it for 134 years.

# Billionaire 2018 Net Worth (Rbn) Years (R1 million a day)
202 Nicky Oppenheimer 91.8 252
228 Johann Rupert 83.5 229
924 Koos Bekker 31.0 85
1020 Patrice Motsepe 28.6 78
1867 Stephen Saad 14.3 39

Read: These are the richest billionaires in South Africa in 2018

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How long it would take South Africa’s billionaires to spend all their money