Revealed: Less than 20 people control Tanzania's wealth

11Mar 2018
The Guardian Reporter
Guardian On Sunday
Revealed: Less than 20 people control Tanzania's wealth
  • THE RICH CLUB - While the number of super-rich individuals remains very small, more Tanzanians are now becoming US dollar millionaires, despite a tough economy

LESS than 20 individuals in Tanzania are worth $50 million (over 110 billion shillings) and above in net assets each, according to the latest global wealth report released this week by analyst firm Knight Frank.

However, while the exclusive group of ultra-wealthy individuals in the country is not expected to exceed 20 people over the next five years, Tanzania created 40 new dollar millionaires in 2017 alone compared to 2016, bringing the number of persons with a net-worth of over $5 million (11 billion shillings) to 250.

In 2016, Tanzania had some 210 individuals listed as US dollar millionaires, up from 160 individuals in 2012.

With Tanzania's population estimated to reach 54 million this year, it means that the number of US dollar individuals represents a tiny fraction of the country's population.

The Wealth Report 2018 predicts that the number of US dollar millionaires in Tanzania worth at least $5 million could almost double to 460 individuals by the year 2022. 

Although the report does not name the Tanzanian millionaires, Forbes magazine last year identified at least 10 individuals who have built multi-million dollar fortunes in the country.

Mohammed Dewji, Said Salim Bakhresa, Rostam Aziz and Reginald Mengi are frequently cited by Forbes as among the richest Tanzanians, with Dewji earning the rare distinction of being the only US dollar billionaire in East Africa.  

Other multi-millionaire Tanzanian individuals recognised by Forbes include Ally Awadh (Lake Oil Group), Shekhar Kanabar (Synarge Group), Shubash Patel (Motisun Group), Ghalib Said Mohamed (GSM Group), Fida Hussein Rashid (Africarriers Group), Salim Turky (Turky's Group of Companies), Yogesh Manek (MAC Group), Abdulaziz Abood (Abood Group) and Haroon Zakaria (Murzah Oils).

Despite the impressive growth in the number of US dollar millionaires, Tanzania's list of the ultra-rich pales in comparison to neighbouring Kenya, which is the second-biggest economy in the East African region after Ethiopia.

Kenya’s population of individuals worth at least $5 million in net assets rose to 1,290 in 2017 from 1,110. Out of the 1,290 individuals, 90 are worth $50 million or more. 

The number of Kenya’s dollar millionaires worth at least $5 million is expected to grow by 60.5 per cent over the next five years to 2,070 in 2022, which will be the second fastest growth in Africa behind Nigeria’s 74 per cent to 6,500 individuals. 

Africa had a total of 22,970 individuals in the $5m+ wealth band in 2017, while the continent had a total of 1,190 individuals worth at least $50 million last year, holding total wealth estimated at $245 billion.

In Africa, South Africa has the highest number of individuals with assets valued at $5 million or more, followed by Egypt with 4,180. Nigeria has 3,730 individuals in this wealth bracket, Tanzania 250, Zambia 140, while Uganda has less than 100.

Another global report issued last year by Credit Suisse said the globe's richest 1 per cent own half the world’s wealth.

The world’s richest people have seen their share of the globe’s total wealth increase from 42.5 per cent at the height of the 2008 financial crisis to 50.1 per cent in 2017, or $140 trillion.

The increase in wealth among the already very rich led to the creation of 2.3 million new dollar millionaires over the past year, taking the total to 36 million. “The number of millionaires, which fell in 2008, recovered fast after the financial crisis, and is now nearly three times the 2000 figure,” Credit Suisse said.

These millionaires – who account for 0.7 per cent of the world’s adult population – control 46 per cent of total global wealth that now stands at $280 trillion.

At the other end of the spectrum, the world’s 3.5 billion poorest adults each have assets of less than $10,000 (22 million shillings). Collectively these people, who account for 70 per cent of the world’s working age population, account for just 2.7 per cent of global wealth.

The report said the poor are mostly found in developing countries, with more than 90 per cent of adults in India and Africa having less than $10,000. 

“In some low-income countries in Africa, the percentage of the population in this wealth group is close to 100 per cent,” the report said.