Picture: THINKSTOCK
Picture: THINKSTOCK

RESOURCES lead the surge in wealth on the continent and South Africa still leads the pack with 785 people worth a combined $100bn.

Over the next five years, the number of super-rich individuals in Africa is expected to grow at the fastest rate globally, expanding by an average of 6.9% each year.

This is according to the World Ultra Wealth Report by the Singapore-based research firm Wealth-X.

The number of the US's super-rich is expected to grow at the slowest pace over the next five years, expanding at only 2.4% annually.

Wealth-X defines ultra-high net worth individuals as those with a net worth of $30m (R255m) after accounting for shares in public and private companies, residential and investment properties, art collections, aeroplanes, cash and other assets.

In 2012, Africa had an increase of 5.1% in its super-rich to 2,535 people, who held a combined wealth of $329bn.

The report said: "The growth in the African ultra-high net worth population was largely driven by growth in South Africa, which has the largest ultra-high net worth population on the continent. The ultra-high net worth population growth has thrived off the back of demand for resources from emerging economies."

South Africa, according to the report, had 785 super-rich people with a combined wealth of $100bn. Egypt was in second place with a mega-wealthy population of 490, who held a combined $65bn.

In third position was Nigeria with 455 ultra-rich people who had $60bn in total, and Kenya was fourth with 125 superwealthy individuals who held a combined worth of $16bn.

Tanzania rounded out the top five with only 105 super-rich people, who were worth a total of $14bn.

"Growth in sub-Saharan Africa has not shown any signs of decline, but rather reflects the encouragement of positive commodity prices," the report said.

"Despite the promising picture, Africa, like other emerging economies, is susceptible to Europe's ongoing crisis. The gloom in Europe may prove to be the drag on economic expansion in Africa and the Middle East through the reduced demand for oil and an increase in risk aversion among investors.

"However, China's controversial series of investments in Africa reflects the continuing attraction of the resource-rich African continent," said the report.

Wealth-X projected that the surge in growth of South Africa's super-rich - by an average of 6.2% over the next five years - would be driven by a surge in property and equity markets.

But Kenya and Tanzania were expected to lead the growth of the ultra-wealthy population in Africa.

Kenya's super-rich population is expected to grow by 11.3% and Tanzania's by 13.8% over the next five years.

"Tanzania's economy is fuelled by the demand for gold and coffee, the East African nation's major produce,'' the report said.

"With high gold prices and sustained demand for gold as investors seek alternative forms of investment that can act as a hedge against inflation, the future is bright for Tanzania's ultra-wealthy," said Wealth-X.

South Africa bucked the trend compared with the other emerging economies. Brazil, Russia, India and China all showed a decrease in the number of super-rich in 2012. In South Africa, however, there were 725 ultra-wealthy people in 2011 - and 785 in 2012.

The report also showed that in 2012 there were 187,380 super-rich people around the world who had a combined wealth of $25.8-trillion.

"Combined wealth attributable to this segment shrank by 1.8% from a year ago. The decrease was largely driven by the eurozone crisis and a slowdown in emerging economies," the report said.

*This article was first published in Sunday Times: Money & Careers