South Africa has lost over 11,000 millionaires

 ·16 Apr 2024

The latest African Wealth Report for 2024 shows that South Africa has continued to bleed millionaires, with 400 wealthy individuals calling it quits on the country or losing their millionaire status in 2023 – adding to the thousands lost over the last decade.

The wealth report, published by international wealth advisory firm Henley & Partners in collaboration with global wealth intelligence partner New World Wealth, shows that South Africa had 37,400 high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) at the end of 2023.

This is 400 fewer than the 37,800 recorded at the end of 2022, and down 11,300 from the 48,700 recorded at the end of 2013.

HNWIs are defined in the report as individuals with “liquid, investable wealth” exceeding US$1 million (~R19 million at current rates).

According to the report, there are currently 135,200 HNWIs living in Africa, along with 342 centi-millionaires worth US$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.

Despite seeing its number of millions drop by 20% over the last ten years, South Africa is still the country on the continent with the highest number of HNWIs. It also has the most centi-millionaires (102), but is second to Egypt when it comes to billionaires (5 in South Africa, 7 in Egypt).

All the Big 5 nations except Morocco have seen a significant decline in millionaires. Morocco saw a gain of 1,000 millionaires in the past year, while jumping up the overall ranking from 9th position in 2013 to 5th in 2023.

#Country20222023YoY Diff201310Y Diff
1South Africa37 80037 400-40048 700-11 300
2Egypt16 100 15 600-50022 800-7 200
3Nigeria9 8008 200-1 60015 700– 7 500
4Kenya7 7007 200-5008 300-1 100
5Morocco5 8006 800+1 0004 900+1 900

Where have all the millionaires gone?

The report’s authors pointed to two main causes for the deterioration of wealth on the continent: wealth destruction and emigration.

According to Dominic Volek, Group Head of Private Clients at Henley & Partners, currency depreciation and underperforming stock markets have chipped away at Africa’s wealth compared to global benchmarks.

For South Africa in particular, the rand fell 43% against the US dollar from 2013–2023.

“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,” Volek said.

Head of Research at New World Wealth, Andrew Amoils, said 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,” he said.

There are currently close to 1 million South Africans living abroad, with anecdotal evidence pointing to many of these being high earners and skilled individuals. While some are returning, this is not enough to counter the mass exodus over the past decade or two.

More positively – for the rest of Africa at least – forecasts show that wealth on the continent is set to rise as 11 African nations are set become show the biggest economic growth in the world. However, this is not the case for South Africa, which is seen as struggling compared to other countries.

“The fly in the ointment is the continent’s four biggest economies — Nigeria (3.2%), South Africa (0.9%), Angola (3.3%), and Egypt (4%), which are being buffeted by numerous structural constraints and are not taking off significantly,” the groups said.

Read: SARS is coming after South Africa’s rich – as they try to rush billions out of the country

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