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Mapped: A Snapshot of Wealth in Africa

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Map infographic showing the top locations of private wealth in Africa

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Mapped: A Snapshot of Wealth in Africa

The continent of Africa contains more than 50 countries, but just five account for more than half of total wealth on the continent: South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria, Morocco, and Kenya.

Despite recent setbacks in Africa’s largest economies, wealth creation has been strong in a number of areas, and total private wealth is now estimated to be US$2.1 trillion. There also an estimated 21 billionaires in Africa today.

Drawing from the latest Africa Wealth Report, here’s a look at where all that wealth is concentrated around the continent.

A Country-Level Look at Wealth in Africa

South Africa is a still a major stronghold of wealth in Africa, with a robust luxury real estate market and ample wealth management services. The country is also ranked second on the continent in per capita wealth. That said, the country has faced challenges in recent years.

An estimated 4,500 high net worth individuals (wealth of US$1 million or more) have left South Africa over the past decade, migrating to places like the UK, Australia, and the United States. In one stark data point, the report points out that “there are 15 South African born billionaires in the world, but only 5 of them still live in South Africa.”

Here is how major African countries compare in terms of per capita wealth.

RankCountryWealth per Capita (US$)
#1🇲🇺 Mauritius$34,000
#2🇿🇦 South Africa$10,970
#3🇳🇦 Namibia$9,320
#4🇧🇼 Botswana$7,880
#5🇲🇦 Morocco$3,380
#6🇪🇬 Egypt$3,000
#7🇬🇭 Ghana$1,890
#8🇰🇪 Kenya$1,700
#9🇦🇴 Angola$1,620
#10🇨🇮 Côte d'Ivoire$1,610
#11🇳🇬 Nigeria$1,100
#12🇹🇿 Tanzania$940
#13🇷🇼 Rwanda$850
#14🇺🇬 Uganda$820
#15🇿🇲 Zambia$760
#16🇲🇿 Mozambique$650
#17🇪🇹 Ethiopia$540

Mauritius is Africa’s wealthiest nation on a per capita basis. Here are a few reasons why the island nation comes out on top:

  • HNWI growth – Wealthy individuals have flocked to Mauritius in recent years
  • Ease of doing business – Mauritius ranked 13th worldwide in World Bank’s Doing Business Report
  • Low taxes – There is no inheritance tax or capital gains tax in the country
  • Safety – Mauritius was recently rated by New World Wealth as the safest country in Africa
  • Financial sector – A growing local financial services sector and stock market (SEMDEX)

As a result, Mauritius has seen the strongest growth in total private wealth over the past decade, followed by Rwanda and Ethiopia.

Bar chart showing 10-year wealth growth in African countries

On the flip side of the equation, Nigeria—which is Africa’s largest economy—saw a steep drop in total wealth. The country has struggled in recent years with high unemployment, corruption, and an over-reliance on crude oil.

The Big Picture

Over time, African countries are becoming less dependent on extractive industries, and business conditions are continuing to improve nearly across the board. These tailwinds, combined with the continent’s favorable demographics, point to a bright economic future for Africa.

The outlook for private wealth on the continent is largely positive as well. Total private wealth held in Africa is expected to reach US$3 trillion by 2031, an increase of close to 40%.

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Visualized: The Security Features of American Money

How can you tell a fake $100 bill from a real one? In this visual we break down the anatomy and security features of American money.

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American money

Visualized: The Security Features of of American Money

In 1739, Benjamin Franklin sought to tackle the issue of counterfeit money in America, using a printing press and leaves to create unique raised patterns on the colonial notes.

Almost 300 years later, Benjamin Franklin is the face of the U.S. $100 bill, and it is protected by a myriad of security features including secret images, special ink, hidden watermarks, and magnetic signatures, among others.

In this visual, we’ve broken down the $100 bill to showcase the anatomy of American currency.

The Makeup of American Money

There are 6 key features that identify real bills and protect the falsification of American money.

① Serial Numbers & EURion Constellation

The most basic form of security on an $100 bill is the serial number. Every bill has a unique number to record data on its production and keep track of how many individual bills are in circulation.

The EURion constellation is star-like grouping of yellow rings near the serial number. It is only detectable by imaging software.

② Color Changing Ink

This ink changes color at different angles thanks to small metallic flakes within the ink itself. The $100 bill, like all other paper bills in the U.S., has its value denoted in color changing ink on the bottom right-hand corner; unlike other bills, it also features a liberty bell image using the ink.

③ Microprinting

Microprinting allows for verifiable images that cannot be scanned by photocopiers or seen by the naked eye. The $100 bill has phrases like “USA 100” written invisibly in multiple places.

④ Intaglio Printing

Rather than regular ink pressed onto the paper, intaglio printing uses magnetic ink and every different bill value has a unique magnetic signature.

⑤ Security Threads & 3D Ribbons

The security thread is a clear, embedded, vertical thread running through the bill. It can only be seen under UV light, contains microprinted text specifying the bill’s value, and on each different bill value it glows a unique color.

Additionally, 3D ribbons are placed in the center of $100 bills with a pattern that slightly changes as it moves.

⑥ Paper, Fibers, & Watermarks

Because American money is made of cotton and linen, blue and red cloth fibers are woven into the material as another identifying feature. Finally, watermarks are found on most bills and can only be detected by light passing through the bill.

The Relevance of Cash

Here’s a look at the total number of each paper bill that is physically in circulation in the U.S.:

Physical Bill Billions of notes (2021)
$114.0
$21.4
$53.4
$102.3
$2011.9
$502.5
$10017.7
$500-$10,0000.0004
Total53.2

Interestingly, a number of $500-$10,000 dollar bills are in someone’s pockets. And while they are not issued anymore, the Fed still recognizes the originals of these bills that were legally put into circulation in the past.

$10,000 U.S. note (1934 series)

A $10,000 Federal Reserve Note (1934)

Additionally, there is fake money passing hands in the U.S. economy. Being the most widely-accepted currency in the world, it’s no wonder many try to falsely replicate American money. According to the U.S. Department of Treasury, there are approximately $70 million in counterfeit bills currently circulating in the country.

Finally, a natural question arises: how many people still use cash anyways?

Well, a study from Pew Research Center found that it while it is a dwindling share of the population, around 58% of people still use cash for some to all of their weekly purchases, down from 70% in 2018 and 75% in 2015.

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Ranked: The World’s Richest Billionaires Over the Past 10 Years

This visualization looks at the ballooning wealth and ranking of the top 10 billionaires over the past 10 years.

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Ranked: The World’s Richest Billionaires Over the Past 10 Years

The last decade has seen a number of changes in the world’s richest billionaires list.

For one, there are new faces at the top of the leaderboard that were never there before. One of the most obvious changes though, is that the richest billionaires have accumulated a lot more wealth in recent years.

Using annual data from Forbes on the richest billionaires, we’ve visualized the wealth and ranking of the top 10 billionaires over the past decade.

Who are the World’s Richest Billionaires?

While the pecking order has fluctuated, the leaderboard remains very exclusive. Out of a possible 10 spots, there are only 19 individuals that have made the list over the last decade.

Here’s the current list of richest billionaires in 2022, including when they first made the list (if in the last decade):

RankNameCountryNet Worth (2022)First Year on List*
#1Elon Musk🇺🇸 U.S.$219 billion2021
#2Jeff Bezos🇺🇸 U.S.$171 billion2016
#3Bernard Arnault🇫🇷 France$158 billion-
#4Bill Gates🇺🇸 U.S.$129 billion-
#5Warren Buffett🇺🇸 U.S.$118 billion-
#6Larry Page🇺🇸 U.S.$111 billion2019
#7Sergey Brin🇺🇸 U.S.$107 billion2021
#8Larry Ellison🇺🇸 U.S.$106 billion-
#9Steve Ballmer🇺🇸 U.S.$91 billion2020
#10Mukesh Ambani🇮🇳 India$91 billion-

*Billionaires with “-” first made the list at an earlier date. Example: Mukesh Ambani made the 2008 list.

Microsoft co-founder turned philanthropist, Bill Gates, is a perennial presence at the top of these lists. Gates is currently at his lowest rank over this time period, but is still in fourth spot. The billionaire has pledged to give away nearly all of his fortune to the eponymously named Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

From 2018 to 2021, Jeff Bezos sat at the top of the world’s richest people ranking, only to be bumped out by Elon Musk. In 2020, Bezos became the first person to amass a $200 billion fortune after Amazon’s stock price surged during the pandemic. In recent months, Bezos’ net worth has taken a hit as Amazon’s share price has fallen back down to Earth.

Today, Elon Musk is the world’s richest person.

The Rich Get Richer

Over time, the median net worth of the richest billionaires has grown significantly.

YearMedian Net Worth of Top 10 Billionaires
2013$39 billion
2014$44 billion
2015$49 billion
2016$45 billion
2017$56 billion
2018$71 billion
2019$64 billion
2020$68 billion
2021$97 billion
2022$115 billion

Most fortunes are held in the form of business equity, real estate, and publicly-traded stocks—all asset classes that have benefited from the era of cheap money and ultra-low interest rates.

Over the decade period, the median net worth of the top 10 billionaires has nearly tripled from $39 billion to $115 billion.

In fact, the first billionaire to pass the $100 billion threshold was Jeff Bezos in 2018, when he took the top spot on the list from Bill Gates. However, now all but two on the top 10 wealthiest list are centibillionaires.

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