New figures show that South Africa has 543 ultra-rich individuals with a total combined wealth of $72 billion, with the number of such individuals increasing by 20 percent in the period under review.

The report, by business information provider WealthInsight, found that the individuals had an average wealth of $132 million.

Those with wealth of $30 million or more are classified as “ultra-high net worth individuals”. This wealth includes equities, bonds, cash and deposits, fixed-income products, property, alternative assets and business interests. South Africa has four billionaires – Nicky Oppenheimer, Johann Rupert, Patrice Motsepe and Christo Wiese – as well as 153 centimillionaires and 386 millionaires by the end of 2011. Though the number of billionaires has actually declined, by 15.8 per cent, the other two categories saw sizeable increases. WealthInsight has predicted that the number of ultra-wealthy individuals in South Africa will increase.

By 2016 the group said it expects the number of ultra-wealthy individuals in South Africa to rise 43 percent to reach 775. The number of billionaires is expected to increase by 56 percent, while the numbers of centimillionaires and millionaires are set to increase 45 percent and 42 percent, respectively. The group also highlighted the fact that 75 of the individuals, or 14 percent, had come from previously disadvantaged groups.

This at last represents some good news in a country that is often criticised for its lack of social mobility and a great gap between the nation’s richest and poorest citizens.

A World Bank report last month said that the country was struggling to provide work for hundreds of thousands of workers, with unemployment hitting 25 percent but much higher among young black people.


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