Darlington Musarurwa – Business Editor

\n

FOR a country that has been bludgeoned by economic sanctions from North America and the European bloc for the past 15 years, it seems there is a disproportionate rise in the nouaveau riche (newly rich), with a new global report indicating that there was a 46 percent rise in individuals with a net worth of over US$30 million in the past 10 years in Zimbabwe.

\n

2205HR0103RICH LIST

\n

The 2015 Wealth Report, which is published by London-based Knight Frank – one of the world’s leading property advisors – with input from WealthInsight, another London-based firm that provides intelligence on global high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth individuals (HNWs and UHNWIs) in the wealth management sector, also forecasts that the number of this ultra-wealthy class will rise by 46 percent in the next decade.

\n

The firms argue that they can competently offer an analysis of wealth distribution trends covering almost 100 countries and 100 cities.

\n

It is estimated that they were 14 Zimbabweans that had a net worth of over US$30 million in 2004, with the figure rising to 25 and 26 in 2013 and 2014, respectively.

\n

Twelve new individuals are expected to join this group by 2024, pushing the number to 38.

\n

While the projections can be considered to be conservative, they connote the success of private enterprise in a very difficult environment.

\n

Market watchers believe that this trend shows that the country is not being left out of the continent-wide wave where economies and economic prospects are growing above world averages.

\n

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) observed in its recent Regional Economic Outlook for sub-Saharan Africa projects that the economy of the region is set to register another year of solid performance, expanding at 4,5 percent this year.

\n

Africa is generally considered as one of the few regions remaining in the world where there is huge potential for growth driven mainly by a growing and young population that is fuelling demand and pushing up economic activity and wealth creation.

\n

“The continent also boasts a strong strand of entrepreneurialism, which has resulted in a clear shift towards substantial growth in HNWI numbers over recent years. Given that Africa currently accounts for 15 percent of the world’s population, but delivers only 4 percent of global output, it unquestionably offers great opportunity over the medium and longer term,” noted the 2015 Wealth Report.

\n

However, it is the Ivory Coast that is expected to have more multi-millionaires in the next 10 years than any other African country.

\n

Ultra-high-net-worth individuals in the West African country are forecasted to increase 119 percent to 57 by 2024, which compares favourably to Zimbabwe’s 38. But growth will not be confined to the super-rich only as economic growth on the continent also continues to nurture “mass afluence” through the creation of middle-class consumers with disposable income to spend.

\n

Economists are still grappling with how to define the middle class. While some researchers suggest that it includes employees that earn close to or above the country’s average wage, influential economists Mr Branko Milanovic and Mr Shlomo Yitzhaki indicated in 2000 that the global middle class were those who earned between US$4 000 and US$17,000 a year, which translates to US$US$333 per month and US$1 400 per month, correspondingly.

\n

This would mean that a significant chunk of local formal employees, including those that are employed in the civil service, are actually categorised as people that are earning enough to be passed off as the middle class by global standards.

\n

Presently, the lowest-paid Government employees, who include office orderlies and are considered to be in the B1 grade, take home US$296 per month, while workers in grade C1 get US$353.

\n

Most teachers, nurses and members of the uniformed forces in grade D1 and above are paid US$419.

\n

Government believes that the abnormally high cost of prices and costs on the local market effectively undermine the value of local wages, which, essentially, are competitive by world standards.

\n

On the overall, between 2000 and 2010 Africa’s middle-class population grew from 29 percent to 34 percent of the continent’s total population.

\n

Private consumption is similarly climbing in emerging economies.

\n

Buth there is concern that global wealth is increasingly being concentrated in the hands of a few.

\n

A research paper published by Oxfam, an international non-governmental organisation, on January 19 this year showed that the richest 1 percent in the world has seen its share of global wealth rise from 44 percent in 2009 to 48 percent in 2014.

\n

Also members of this global elite had an average wealth of US$2,7 million per adult in 2014.

\n

Of the remaining 52 percent of global wealth, almost all — 46 percent — is owned by the rest of the richest fifth of the world’s population. The other 80 percent share just 5,5 percent and have an average wealth of US$3 851 per adult, according to Oxfam.

\n

With such growing inequalities, there is now heightened calls for governments around the world to tax the super-rich.

\n

In fact, the recent Wealth Report shows that more than 80 percent of ultra-wealthy individuals are really concerned about wealth taxes and increased government scrutiny of wealth.

\n

Controversial French economist Thomas Piketty, who has been very vocal about wealth taxes, argues that governments should take action and levy higher taxes on the rich in order to re-distribute wealth. But other economists are agreed that higher taxes could actually prove a barrier to economic growth, undermining the opportunity for wealth creation across every stratum of society.

\n

Interestingly, the 2015 Wealth Report coincides with a report from a local firm X Research and Intelligence that lists the country’s Top 50 richest personalities.

\n

On top of the pile is telecommunications guru Mr Strive Masiyiwa, followed by business magnate Mr Philip Chiyangwa, Mr Shingai Mutasa, Mr Moses Chingwena and Televangelist Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa. It is also claimed that the first top ten individuals account for the first multi-million dollar citizens in an independent Zimbabwe.

\n

Mr Strive Masiyiwa

\n

Mr Strive Masiyiwa is the executive chairman and founder of the Econet Group — a privately held diversified telecommunications group with operations and investments in Africa, Europe, South America, North America and the East Asia Pacific Rim. Its local unit is Econet Wireless Zimbabwe (EWZ) whose market capitalisation was US$455 million by the end of last week.

\n

Although the 54-year-old businessman’s exact holding in EWZ is not known, last week the businessman indicated on his Facebook post that he held less than 50 percent of the mobile telephone company.

\n

“When we listed the company (1998), I only had a direct interest of about 35 percent. Out of the 60 percent, that I held in my personal company 25 percent was held by friends who had helped me. Within a few years they had sold their shares and moved on.

\n

“I never sold shares, except at the beginning, to help build the largest church in the country. Over the years I just continued to buy whenever I had some cash. Even today I still hold less than 50 percent of that particular business. The public hold the majority,” he said.

\n

Assuming that he holds between 30 percent and 40 percent, his value in Econet could be more than US$159 million.

\n

Mr Masiyiwa also has other business interests that include renewable energy, water treatment, Coca-Cola bottling, financial services and hospitality.

\n

He sits on a number of international boards, including the Rockefeller Foundation, the Council on Foreign Relations’ Global Advisory Board, the Africa Progress Panel, the UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board for Sustainable Energy, Morehouse College and the Hilton Foundation’s Humanitarian Prize Jury.

\n

Last year, Forbes estimated that his net worth could be more than US$600 million. It ranked him as number 43rd richest person on the continent.

\n

Dr Philip Chiyangwa

\n

The extent of the maverick businessman’s riches is not known, but his decision to venture into real estate and property development seems to be paying dividends.

\n

Estimates suggest that Dr Chiyangwa holds in excess of 12 000 hectares around the country. Most tellingly, Government and the Harare City Council decided to return to him contested land in and around Harare. Ordar Farm, which had been taken over by Ordar Housing Development Consortium made up of 56 companies, is home to more than 20 000 families.

\n

Assuming that they decide to compensate Dr Chiyangwa US$4 per square metre — a fee that has mostly recently been hinted — the 56-year-old tycoon stands to have a US$20 million payday.

\n

In addition, he has more than 40 companies, with engineering firm Zeco Holdings being the only listed firm.

\n

Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa

\n

At the age of 37, what the televangelist has achieved is nothing short of phenomenal. It also shows the shifting local business landscape.

\n

Some have since termed the phenomenon where men of the cloth increasingly tussle it out for rich pickings in the business world as gospreneurship.

\n

Though much of his investments are under the cloak, so to speak, it is believed that Prophet Makandiwa has a controlling stake in Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed Radar Holdings (Private) Limited among other multi-million dollar businesses.

\n

He also owns a huge stake in entertainment giant, Ster Kinekor’s franchise both in Zimbabwe and Zambia.

\n

Estimates suggest that he also draws more than 50 000 congregants at his church services per week.

\n

 

\n

Do you think that the Top 50 list of Zimbabwe’s black rich individuals is a fair survey. Send your feedback to darlington.musarurwa@zimpapers.co.zw.

\n