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The Key Drivers of Wealth in Africa: Spotlight on Millionaire Migration

Andrew Amoils

Andrew Amoils

Andrew Amoils is Head of Research at wealth intelligence firm New World Wealth.

Most industries boost GDP, but very few boost wealth. Generally, only industries that bring new money (forex) into a country help to build its wealth. The inward migration of wealthy people also helps to drive a country’s wealth, along with improving safety and security and offering competitive tax rates.

Digital composite of a man working on a tablet and a line graph

The key drivers of wealth on the continent in 2024

Based on our research, the top factors that encourage wealth growth include:

  • Millionaire migration: the migration of wealthy people to a country helps to build its wealth, while wealth migration away from a country does the opposite. With the exception of Mauritius, African nations consistently lose large numbers of high-net-worth individuals annually due to emigration. This prevents them from reaching their full potential as much of their hard-earned wealth growth is eroded. (See below for a full review of Africa’s recent wealth migration trends.)
  • Strong safety and security: the safety levels in a country and the efficiency of local police are among the most critical factors in encouraging long-term wealth growth over a 50+ year period. Concerningly, African nations often rank among the most dangerous countries on earth, especially when it comes to key metrics such as murder rates, women’s safety, and child safety. African countries also perform poorly on the Global Peace Index. According to New World Wealth’s in-house Africa Safety Index for 2023, Mauritius ranks as the safest country in Africa, followed by Namibia, Botswana, and Morocco.
  • Growth in key sectors: key wealth creating sectors include those that generate foreign exchange such as hi-tech, manufacturing, mining, and tourism. Most African countries perform poorly when it comes to hi-tech and manufacturing, and are instead heavily reliant on mining, agriculture, and tourism to bring in forex. Mauritius is a notable exception as it generates significant forex via offshore banking and real estate.
  • Competitive tax rates: globally, the UAE, Monaco, and Singapore provide examples of the power of favorable tax in encouraging wealth creation — all three wealth nexuses have very low tax rates. In Africa specifically, Mauritius and Namibia stand out as both countries have no capital gains tax and no estate duty (and both have residence by investment offerings).
  • A well-developed banking system and stock market: an efficient banking sector and stock market encourages individuals to invest and grow their wealth locally. South Africa is successful in this regard as it is home one of the world’s top 20 stock exchanges.
  • Media freedom: it is important that major news outlets in a country are neutral and objective. An established financial media sector is key in disseminating reliable information to investors, which ultimately contributes to wealth growth.
  • Strong ownership rights: once assets are taken away, they tend to lose value, negatively impacting on wealth. Zimbabwe offers a case in point in this regard.

Spotlight on millionaire migration

According to our latest figures, approximately 18,700 high-net-worth individuals have left Africa over the past decade (2013 to 2023). Most 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.

It should be noted that this figure does not include individuals who moved internally within the continent. Approximately 1,600 millionaires moved between African countries over the 10-year period. While most relocated to Mauritius and South Africa, some also moved to Morocco and Namibia.

Billionaire emigration concerns

A large number of billionaires have left Africa over the past 20 years. Notably, there are 54 African born billionaires in the world, but only 21 of them still live on the continent. This is a significant concern, as billionaires are often entrepreneurs and company founders who therefore have the ability to create large numbers of jobs in their host country.

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