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Why Africa's billionaires & millionaires are fleeing the continent

Find out why Africa's billionaires & millionaires are leaving the continent & which countries they are investing in

An AI illustration of a diverse group of African billionaires in a corporate boardroom, with an airport and a private jet visible in the background.

Africa, a continent bustling with potential, is witnessing a significant trend that could impact its economic landscape: the migration of its billionaires and millionaires to other parts of the world.

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This shift not only raises concerns about wealth distribution but also highlights the changing dynamics in some of Africa’s wealthiest cities.

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In recent years, Africa has seen a notable migration of its richest individuals, with many billionaires relocating abroad.

The 2024 Africa Wealth Report by Henley & Partners indicate that of the 54 African-born billionaires, only 21 remain on the continent.

This exodus is largely driven by the search for better safety, security, and financial opportunities abroad.

Countries such as the UK, USA, Australia, and the UAE have become popular destinations for Africa’s wealthy, who take with them significant economic contributions and potential job opportunities​​.

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This phenomenon has led to a wealth drain, preventing countries from maximizing their wealth potential.

For instance, approximately 18,700 high-net-worth individuals have left Africa over the past decade, seeking greener pastures elsewhere.

This has had a considerable impact on local economies that benefit from the investment and spending of these wealthy individuals​​.

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.

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Despite the outflow of high-net-worth individuals, Africa still boasts some of the world’s most dynamic and wealthy cities.

Johannesburg, for example, is home to 12,300 high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) and hosts the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, one of the top 20 in the world.

The city is known for its affluent suburbs and remains a central hub for wealth in South Africa​​.

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Cape Town is another jewel in Africa's crown, with 7,400 HNWIs. The city is known for its stunning residential areas and is on track to surpass Johannesburg as Africa’s wealthiest city by 2030, thanks to its growing popularity among retiring millionaires from Europe and other African nations​​.

Nairobi and Lagos are also significant contributors to Africa’s wealth landscape. Nairobi, known for its pleasant climate and luxury neighbourhoods, is the centre of wealth in East Africa, housing over 60% of Kenya’s millionaires.

The report indicates that Nairobi has 4,400 Kenyans worth more than Sh130 million and 70 worth over Sh13 billion.

Lagos, Nigeria’s bustling metropolis, is not only the most populous city in Africa but also a central financial hub with a growing number of wealthy residents​​.

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However, the future of wealth in Africa also depends on several key factors that could either enhance or hinder wealth growth.

These include the safety and security of the environment, the presence of robust financial and banking systems, media freedom, and strong ownership rights​​.

As Africa continues to grapple with these challenges, its cities must focus on creating favourable conditions that not only retain the existing wealthy population but also attract new wealth.

This involves improving safety standards, offering competitive tax rates, and ensuring a stable and inviting business climate.

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