Kenya records the highest number of dollar millionaires under 35 years in Africa even as South Africa leads the pack with 1,033 ultra-rich persons

Nairobi City skyline.
  • This is according to the 2020 Knight Frank’s Wealth Report which showed the country had a very large number of millennials who are wealthy as of last year.
  • An estimated 499 Kenyans dropped from the rank of dollar millionaires last year due to a slowdown of the economy.
  • Kenya was ranked sixth in Africa among the countries captured by the Wealth Report.

Kenya boosts the highest number of high net worth individuals under the age of 35 years with a net worth of at least Sh100 million ($1 million) when compared to its peers in Africa.

This is according to the 2020 Knight Frank’s Wealth Report which showed the country had a very large number of millennials who are wealthy as of last year. The report does not, however, name individuals.

“In Kenya, we had the highest number of Generation Z, people born after 1995, who are considered HNWIs and who are the clients of wealth advisers in Kenya. It also showed a very large number of millennials who are wealthy,” said Andrew Shirley, one of the researchers behind the Wealth Report.

“So what we are seeing in Kenya is an outperformance of young entrepreneurial wealth creation and in terms of sectors they are coming from technology.”

According to the report released on Wednesday, the number of a dollar millionaires in the country has grown 263 per cent since 2014, and now stands at 2,900. It is expected to rise to 3369 by 2024.

In the same breath, an estimated 499 Kenyans dropped from the rank of dollar millionaires last year due to a slowdown of the economy.

Similarly, six Kenyans also dropped from the elite group of super-wealthy persons known as Ultra High Net-Worth Individuals (UHNWI) with a net worth of more than Sh3 billion, cutting their number to 42.

Over the past three years, the Kenyan economy has been struggling to recover following a bruising presidential election in 2017 that put on hold many investment decisions. This was compounded by poor weather that held back farming — which accounts for a third of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP)—last year.

“The drop in number of dollar millionaires was a reaction to the slowdown of the Kenyan economy,” said Shirley.

Last year was also characterised by a drop in corporate profits that saw thousands of people lose their jobs and cut dividends from firms owned by the wealthy.

Kenya was ranked sixth in Africa among the countries captured by the Wealth Report.

South Africa leads the pack with the highest number of wealthy persons with a net worth in excess of Sh3 billion ($30 million) with 1,033 ultra-rich persons followed by Egypt (764) Nigeria (724) Morocco (215) and Tanzania (114).

The Knight Frank’s Wealth Report describes wealth as the net assets of a person that includes property, cash, equities, business interests less any liabilities and their primary residences.

The report reckons that Kenya’s wealthy are increasingly becoming conservative in their investments, preferring less risky and low returns assets like bonds, gold and cash—where they pocket interest payments.

Source of wealth

The manufacturing, real estate and technology sectors have been the biggest contributors to the number of new dollar millionaires in recent years.

Previous wealth reports on Kenya have also shown strong linkages between politics and wealth accumulation.

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