Johannesburg, city of gold, rules millionaires list

Johannesburg is set to remain the millionaire hub of the African continent in the medium to long term despite huge growth in the number of millionaires being recorded by a number of African cities, most of which are benefiting from oil and gas finds.

A study tracking dollar millionaires within the African continent revealed that Johannesburg boasted about 23400 in 2012, placing the city of gold first in the list and far above the rest within the top ten. The study conducted by a research firm called New World Wealth placed Cairo in the second position with about 12300 millionaires. The third position is occupied by Lagos with about 9800 millionaires and followed by Cape Town (9000), Nairobi (5000), Durban (2700), Casablanca (2700), Pretoria (2500), Luanda (2400) and Algiers with 2300 millionaires.

Such studies are done to help merchants of luxury goods and services to track the market.However they are packed with untold  political messages for an educated political economy eye. They reveal an unbalanced economic development sweeping through the continent which while producing millionaires has left multitudes below the poverty line. There is also the fact that African millionaires list pale into insignificance when compared to the global list. For instance, other studies have found that New York has about 400000 dollar millionaires and close to 100 dollar billionaires.

Back to the New World Wealth African study, it projected growth of millionaires in top African cities over the next eight years to 2020. A summary of the study noted that Accra in Ghana is expected to be the fastest growing major city for African millionaires over the next 8 years, with millionaire numbers in the city rising from 800 in 2012 to 1,500 in 2020.

The Accra situation is obviously fuelled by the newish oil finds in Ghana which excited the economy of the West Africa country. According to the African Development Bank, Ghana’s economy grew by about 7.1% in 2012. This is after peaking at 14% GDP growth in 2011 which was largely due to the start-up of oil production. The Ghanain economy is expected to maintain growth levels above the 8% mark in the medium term.

In the New World Wealth list of fastest growing African cities for millionaires, Ghana is followed by Nairobi with projected annual growth of 6.3%. Then follows Lagos, Luanda, Dar es Salaam, Algiers, Casablanca, Durban, Pretoria and Johannesburg.  The list clearly shows bias towards countries feeding from oil and gas finds.

Despite registering slower growth, the New World Wealth study forecast that South African cities are still expected to dominate the top 10 list in 2020. Johannesburg is expected to maintain the top position with about 30600 millionaires in 2020 and followed by Lagos with about 15800. Durban, Cape Town and Pretoria feature in the 2020 top ten. The full top 10 list is reflected in the following table:

Africa: Top 10 cities ranked by millionaires, 2020
Rank City Number of millionaires (000s)
1 Johannesburg 30.6
2 Lagos 15.8
3 Cairo 15.0
4 Cape Town 11.7
5 Nairobi 8.1
6 Casablanca 3.8
7 Luanda 3.8
8 Durban 3.6
9 Algiers 3.5
10 Pretoria 3.4

The study also quoted a list of the top ten cities for multi-millionaires (individuals with over US$30 million each).  Johannesburg remains on top of the pile with 285 multi-millionaires and is followed Cairo at 145 and Lagos with 123 multi millionaires.

A ranking of top 10 African countries for millionaires in 2012 is also led by South Africa. “Unsurprisingly, South Africa comes out on top with 48800 millionaires, followed by Egypt with 23,000 and Nigeria with 15,900”. Nigeria is followed by Kenya (8400), Angola (6400), Tanzania (5700), Libya (5400) Tunisia (6500), Moroco (4900) and Algeria (4100).

Africa: Top 10 countries ranked by millionaires, 2012
Rank Country Number of millionaires (000s)
1 South Africa 48.8
2 Egypt 23.0
3 Nigeria 15.9
4 Kenya 8.4
5 Angola 6.4
6 Tanzania 5.7
7 Libya 6.4
8 Tunisia 6.5
9 Morocco 4.9
10 Algeria 4.1


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