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South Africa topped the wealth table of 15 African countries for which reliable data is available, according to New World Wealth (NWW), but it lagged most of the other African countries when it came to wealth growth over the past decade, ranking fourth from the bottom.

The top performer in terms of wealth growth was Mauritius.

There were many reasons South Africa grew wealth by only 13 percent in dollar terms from 2008 to 2018, compared with 124 percent for Mauritius, according to NWW.

One of the main factors was a depreciating currency as the rand went from R9.30 to the dollar at the end of 2008 to R14.40 at the end of 2018.

Wealth erosion due to a weakening currency was compounded by a sluggish property market - a significant portion of the assets of high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) was in the form of property.

HNWIs are people with net assets of more than $1 million (R14.68m).

The emigration of HNWIs has reduced the number of wealthy individuals. NWW previously estimated that 8000 HNWIs had emigrated from South Africa between 2000 and 2014.

NWW forecast that wealth growth in South Africa in the next decade would be about 30percent, or more than double the performance of the past decade.

NWW said threats of land redistribution without compensation and the possible nationalisation of healthcare could prompt more emigration.

A more general issue, according to NWW, was load shedding.

Despite the poor growth over the past decade, South Africa has many attractions for HMWIs, according to NWW. These include a great lifestyle due to the weather and scenery; good private schools; it was an English-speaking country; it had well-established luxury residential areas, such as Sandton and Camps Bay; top-class shopping centres; relatively good private health care; luxury food stores; and top restaurants and hotels.

This was why South Africa had more than twice the number of HNWIs than any other African country.

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