UBS says fast-growing ranks of African billionaires (there are 200 ‘hidden’ ones too) need bankers

“[Africa’s] wealth is growing faster. It grows on par with Asia now” - Martin Emodi

UBS Group AG, the Swiss company that says it banks more billionaires than any other, said wealthy Africans are rapidly adding to the ranks of the rich on the continent needing specialised financial services.

Key markets on the continent for UBS include Nigeria and South Africa, plus an East African block covering Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, Martin Emodi, the bank’s head of wealth management in Africa, said Wednesday in an interview at the World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town.

“The market in Africa is still up for grabs and that’s what makes it so important to us,” Emodi said. “Wealth is growing faster. It grows on par with Asia now.”

Africa’s richest man is Nigeria’s Aliko Dangote, who ranks 56th on a global rich list with a fortune of $15.7 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

In 2012, investor Mark Mobius said Africa may have as many as 200 “hidden” billionaires, many without publicly traded assets.

Wealthy individuals are emerging in Nigeria’s oil and gas and telecommunications industries, Emodi said. In South Africa, they can be found in consumer, retail and telecommunications. In East Africa, it’s trade, coffee and tourism, he said.

The increase in ultra-high-net-worth people, defined by UBS as having $50 million and more in bankable assets, is spurred by sub-Saharan African economies that are expected to grow by an average 4.5% in 2015, rising to 5.1% next year, according to the International Monetary Fund.

“On the rise is anything with significant scale—so people prevail by selling simple products or having retail stores,” Emodi said. “It’s all about scale and benefiting from growth in the lower to middle class in Africa.”

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