From Cape Town to Nairobi, new elite property zones are emerging in Africa’s major cities as local centi-millionaires spread their economic footprint across the continent.
By Seth Onyango
Affluent households are starting to make up a noticeable share of renters and buyers in major African cities, in a marked shift in the continent’s luxury property domain.
Get exclusive access to the groundbreaking story of Ms. Faith Odhiambo’s historic presidency at LSK in our Latest Edition of Nairobi Law Monthly MagazineDownload Latest Edition Now For Ksh 150!
Cape Town, with its panoramic vistas, wineries and deep-rooted history, takes the lead as the most expensive African city – at US$5,200 per square metre according to the new Henley & Partners report.
Not far behind are other South African coastal jewels, Hermanus and Plettenberg Bay, each priced at US$2,200 per square metre, drawing the wealthy with their serene ocean views and luxurious amenities.
For Marrakech in Morocco, renowned for its vibrant culture and luxurious riads, the wealthy will fork out US$2,000 per square metre. The city offers a unique blend of tradition and luxury, making it a prime destination for the affluent.
“In 2023, the property trends among this elite wealth band boasting over USD 100 million in investable assets shows that they are seeking experience-focused lifestyles, exploring new approaches to luxury, and exhibiting a strong sense of purpose along with their ability to give back,” remarked Maximilian Stamm, Managing Director of Engel & Völkers’ UK operations and the Head of Engel & Völkers Private Office in EMEA.
“Essentially, centi-millionaires aim to create a home that not only lasts a lifetime but also inspires them to build an impactful heritage for future generations.”
Of the 138,000 known dollar millionaires residing on the continent, there were 328 individuals classified as centi-millionaires, each with a net worth of US$100 million or more, and a further 23 billionaires, each possessing a net worth of US$1 billion or more.
South Africa’s Umhlanga and Central Sandton are also key destinations for the monied, at $2,000 and $1,800 per square metre respectively.
While Umhlanga’s blend of modern architecture and beachfront allure appeals to many, Sandton, often termed Africa’s richest square mile and headquarters to a number of South African multinational companies, combines high-end shopping and global business, making it irresistible to the wealthy.
The port city of Tangier in Morocco, with its strategic location and Mediterranean vistas, is priced at $1,600 per square metre and has been a magnet for international jet-setters for decades.
Casablanca, another Moroccan gem, merges modernity with tradition and has several luxurious properties priced at $1,200 per square metre.
Similarly, Cairo in Egypt offers a combination of ancient allure and modern opulence at the same price point. Nairobi, East Africa’s booming economic hub, features upscale neighbourhoods like Runda and Muthaiga as well as luxury developments for upwards of $1,200 per square metre.
These property trends reflect broader economic and social shifts across Africa where the number of high-net-worth individuals has been rising steadily.
Interestingly, smaller African nations are giving rise to a new generation of millionaires, challenging the ‘big five” wealth markets on the continent – South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria, Kenya, and Morocco – some of which have experienced millionaire “flight” over the past decade.
The growth of high-net-worth individuals in traditional powerhouse economies like South Africa, Egypt, and Nigeria is cooling off, according to the Africa Wealth Report published in March by Henley & Partners and New World Wealth.
In contrast, emerging markets such as Rwanda, Cote d’Ivoire, and Zambia are experiencing a surge in their millionaire populations, indicating a shift in wealth generation across the continent.
Tellingly, many African nations have experienced robust economic growth, leading to the rise of a wealthy class seeking high-end properties.
International investors from Europe, Asia, and North America are increasingly viewing African luxury properties as valuable assets, which further amplifies demand.
South Africa leads the ranking of the top 10 most affluent African nations in terms of resident high-net-worth individuals, significantly outpacing its competitors.
According to the wealth report, the Rainbow Nation was home to 37 800 US dollar millionaires, out of a continental total of 138,000, at the end of 2022.
It also boasts four of Africa’s wealthiest cities, with Johannesburg, topping the list, home to 14,600 millionaires.
Cairo is second, with 7,400 followed by Cape Town with 7,200.
Lagos and Nairobi take the fourth and fifth positions, while Durban and Pretoria secure the sixth and eighth spots, with 3,600 and 2,400 millionaires, respectively.