How Much Money Do You Need to Join South Africa’s Wealthiest 1%?

Estimated read time 3 min read

Johann-Rupert-and-Patrice-Motsepe one of the most wealthiest South Africans in 2024

By Samkele Mchunu

In a global study by Knight Frank’s Wealth Sizing Model, the financial threshold to be among the top 1% of earners varies significantly across 25 countries, including South Africa. This analysis reveals the stark disparities in wealth requirements worldwide, highlighting the growing gap between the rich and poor nations.

South Africa’s Wealth Threshold

According to the report, to be part of the top 1% in South Africa, an individual needs a net wealth of $109,000 (approximately R2.08 million). This figure places South Africa among the more affordable nations in the comparison, just above the Philippines, which requires $57,000 (R1.09 million) to join their wealthiest 1%.

Global Wealth Disparities

The wealth needed to be in the top 1% varies dramatically from one country to another:

  • Monaco: The entry point is the highest globally at $12.4 million (R237.6 million), over 600 times more than Kenya’s $20,000 (R383,000).
  • Switzerland: Requires a net worth of $6.6 million (R126 million), making it the second-highest after Monaco.
  • Australia: Needs $5.5 million (R105 million), followed by the United States with $5.1 million (R97.7 million).
  • Singapore: Has the highest entry point in Asia at $3.5 million (R67 million), while Hong Kong requires $3.4 million (R65 million).

In contrast, the UAE’s threshold stands at $1.6 million (R31 million), and Brazil leads Latin America with $430,000 (R8.2 million).

The Challenge for the Average South African

A separate study by analysts estimates that South Africans earning the average salary would need to work for at least 68 years to become a dollar millionaire. This timeline highlights the immense challenge for the average South African to amass sufficient wealth to join the top 1%.

To put this into perspective:

  • It would take 843 years for the average South African to reach Monaco’s top 1%.
  • The journey to Switzerland’s top 1% would span 449 years.
  • For the US, it would take 374 years.

The Broader Picture of Global Inequality

The World Bank reports that lower-income households worldwide are increasingly burdened by inflation, with a significant portion of their income now allocated to food and housing. Meanwhile, the wealthiest individuals have seen their fortunes swell, with the world’s 500 richest people adding nearly $600 billion to their wealth in 2023.

Flora Harley from Knight Frank notes that this growing inequality might lead to increased scrutiny and potential taxation on assets and emissions, focusing more on this affluent group.

Visualizing the Wealth Gap

The infographic below provides a detailed comparison of the wealth thresholds across the 25 countries studied by Knight Frank. It vividly illustrates how much wealth is required to join the top 1% in various parts of the world.

Credit – Taken from –

This analysis not only underscores the economic disparities globally but also sparks a discussion on the potential measures needed to address growing inequality.

This summary captures the essence of the findings and the stark differences in wealth requirements globally, with a particular focus on South Africa. If you need further details or specific sections expanded, feel free to ask!

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