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African super-rich grow richer, move to Richistan

July 10th, 2007 Posted in Business, Charity, General, Politics, Travel

Porsche in Dakar trafficAs part of my research on the African brand, I interviewed a Nigerian Hollywood public relations professional recently. Though his clientèle doesn’t consist purely of Africans, being a Hollywood connector he frequently encounters Africans with a bit of money looking to use his services for something or another. As we talked, the topic of money came up and the gentleman expounded on the different groups of Africans with money and their attitudes towards wealth. What I found interesting was how the Nigerian connector classified the groups: hustlers, who will do anything for a buck, and dignitaries, whose source of wealth is questionable. In his experience these were the two types of people who make up the affluent African class. Of course I found his tales of the affluent African a little disheartening, but it brought to light the issue of options for African wealth. We all know that the continent is rich with resources, however the access to those resources and who benefits from it’s potential revenue is another story.

The Wall Street Journal’s Informed Reader points to the recent release of Merrill Lynch and Cap Gemini’s 2007 World Wealth Report which reveals:

Globally, the HNWI (High Net Worth Individuals) population grew by 8.3% in 2006, to a total
of 9.5 million individuals. HNWI population gains were particularly strong last year in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America, advancing by 12.5%, 11.9% and 10.2%, respectively, and outpacing more developed nations. These gains came amid these emerging markets’ attempts to solidify their infrastructures and become more developed economies.

While this means there is more African representation in Robert Frank’s Richistan, many of us in lower to not-even-close Richistan, are beginning to ask even more questions about what role Africans play in the scramble for Africa’s resources. A BIG question raised in the conversation about African billionaires on Forbes’ list was, where are those billionaires getting their money? The wealth report hints that,

China has been an active player in Africa, investing heavily in various sectors and showing particular interest in mining. Taken together, these factors bolstered the continent’s HNWI population, helping it grow by 12.5 percent in 2006 and increasing its wealth by 14 per cent.

While this seems like a good answer, I’m not sure many Africans will buy it. But I don’t want to be labeled a “player hater” so I will point you to this statement by the Informed Reader:

So when it comes to business and markets, the firms that cater to the top of the high end will continue to do the best in the coming years. Think megayachts instead of yachts, beachfront estates instead of McMansions, and Bentleys and Maybachs instead of Mercedes and BMWs.

Paul Redfern adds, “The report says much of the income is spent on luxury items, art collections, jewelery and charitable causes.” Maybe this growing area will give enterprising Africans such as my Hollywood connector friend a green card to Richistan. As another hustler friend of mine said, “Don’t hate, participate” – legitimately of course.

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  • Frederic N’sienie

    hmm interesting, could he be more specific on the countries of origin of the thousands if not hundreds of wealthy individuals he met.
    Questionable wealthy individuals are found everywhere starting here in the states.It does not take away from the other wealthy persons that have aligned themselves with wealth patterns/paragdims.

    Has he met businessmen/women, traders,patent owners,athletes,Stock owners,from Senegal,Ivory Coast,Mauritius,Botswana,Morocco,Cameroon,Egypt,Gabon,Mali,etc..?
    If he has done so, his insight on the two types of wealthy might start to gain some weight.

    however I like the approach of providing goods and services to the class of ultra-wealthy so that capital circulates.

  • Kofi

    You raise a good point about the types of wealthy Africans he’s encountered. Though I didn’t get to ask him about that, I got the impression that due to the nature of his work, and the fact that that he is in Hollywood, his descriptions are indeed exaggerated.

    This also rises the point of the modesty of those wealthy Africans who do not fall into either of those categories. It seems that they need to raise their hands to be counted, whether it be by Forbes or just the nosey public.

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  • Abby

    The Nigerian’s classification as hustlers, who will do anything for a buck, and dignitaries, whose source of wealth is questionable is such a prominent image of Africans and Africans do nothing to dispel it. In NYC here, you will hear people in conversations about doing business with Africans, particularly Nigerians and it’s not one to be admired. In my experiences the exchanges have always been crude at best whether taking a cab, dealing with a merchant. I would think the PR guy would address this to his clients especially in doing business in other countries. Customer service is the trend to going forward. Recently, seen an African businessman shopping for groceries, he had 3 large packs of bottled water. After finishing at the cashier he passed out waters to everyone, shoppers and employees. Now this is good PR!

  • Sadot

    Self made billionaire, yeah i said billionaire Taysha Valez is a French speaking East African but everyone considers her American but she is not. I don’t see how she flies under the radar so easily. Her wealth is on wide display in certain circles. She is invested in Telecom, biotech and consumer goods.

  • anticonartist

    My dear Taysha Smith aka Taysha Smith valez de ames (don't know where she got the extra names) was exposed as A FRAUD. She is a con artist, claiming to be a billionaire. People need to stop spreading her fake story around. SHE IS FAKE SHE IS NOT A BILLIONAIRE BUDDY

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