Every year the likes of Forbes magazine in the United States tracks the world’s richest cities; places that billionaires and millionaires call home. At the same time the likes of the Julius Baer Global Wealth and Lifestyle report determines the most expensive cities in the world for wealthy expats, while MasterCard tracks the leading global destinations for international travellers and how much visitors spend in this prime destinations.
Where individuals with US$1 million or US$1 billion in assets choose to call home – and elect to travel - is both of voyeuristic interest as well as a solid indicator of the long-term appeal and opportunities inherent in those locations. Africa is no different.
Where do Africa’s wealthy call home?
According to Forbes, the top 10 wealthiest cities in the world are: Beijing, New York City, Hong Kong, Moscow, Shenzhen, Shanghai, London, Mumbai, San Francisco and Hangzhou. The list clearly illustrates rising wealth numbers in China, but offers little by way of insight into Africa’s richest cities.
Fortunately, in April 2021 the AfrAsia Bank Africa Wealth Report 2021 was released which provided a welcome indication of which cities on the continent attract the wealthiest residents.
Top of the list was Johannesburg in South Africa, with an impressive 15 100 millionaires (assets of US$1 million-plus) and 790 multi-millionaires (US$10 million-plus-plus) and two billionaires (US$1 billion-plus). Cape Town came in at number two followed by Cairo, Egypt; Lagos, Nigeria and South Africa’s port city of Durban (including Umhlanga). Here is the full list and the number of wealthy per category:
The wealthiest cities in Africa (2021)
Boots on the ground
This data indicates the growing numbers of high-net-worth individuals who choose to remain in Africa, despite amassing enviable balance sheets in any currency. That said, many of Africa’s wealthy individuals do embrace the notion of diversification in both their businesses and their financial affairs, meaning they not only have extensive offshore interests, but they travel, shop, do business and own property outside their country of residence. But not all.
During the 2019 Ibrahim Governance Weekend, hosted by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, the richest man in Africa, Nigeria’s Aliko Dangote, said: “… those luxury things also take up your time, which will not make you focus on your business. I don’t have any holiday home anywhere… but I know people who are working for me, they have a house in London. But I don’t.”
What keeps HNW businessmen like Dangote exclusively resident on the continent has a lot to do with being on hand to capitalise on business opportunities, as well as the family ties and quality of life available in world-class African locations. For some, a drive to give back to the country – and communities – which enabled their success is also part of the rationale.
As South African billionaire Dr Patrice Motsepe commented during the 2020 African Rainbow Minerals AGM: “I will never give up on the people of this country. I grew up in a country that was divided, (had) lots of problems, lots of tension that was segregated by law. Even at that time of legalised division, I had the privilege of seeing some of the most incredible people in this country. Black people, white people and everybody else. So my view of the future of this country … is based on this huge amount of support, love, encouragement, as a young, young boy, over many years, that I’ve been given by all South Africans.”
Others see a wealth of opportunity on the continent and want boots on the ground to exploit these potentialities. In a 2020 interview with Bloomberg Markets and Finance, in which Dangote discussed his new oil refinery business, he noted: “There are good opportunities for everybody [in Africa].” This comment accords with his previous statement to Forbes that: “We Africans are the only ones that can make Africa great.”
Whatever the reason, Africa’s wealth numbers are growing. And many chose to keep Africa as their home address.