Kenya’s wealthy fared better than the wealthy anywhere else in the world during the economic turmoil of 2022, retreating from international citizenships and foreign property in favour of Kenya and Africa as safe havens, according to the 2023 attitudes survey issued today with Knight Frank’s annual Wealth Report.
The world’s Ultra-High Net Worth Individuals (UHNWIs) saw their fortunes slashed globally by 10 percent last year on a cocktail of post-pandemic property price falls, soaring energy prices, falling stock markets, and surging inflation and interest rates. The wealthy in Europe were by far the hardest hit, due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, suffering a fall of 17.3 percent in their fortunes.
However, Africa’s UHNWIs saw the lowest losses, recording an overall drop of just 5 percent.
Knight Frank’s Attitudes Survey of wealth managers also found that next to only Australasia, Africa delivered the highest proportion of clients who increased their wealth in 2022, at 64 percent, compared with the global average of 40 percent, and just 24 percent in the Americas.
“Nowhere in the world was immune from last year’s inflationary trends, or geopolitical risks. However, with the wealthy in Kenya and Africa less exposed to overseas property holdings and equity markets than HNWIs globally, their assets proved more resilient to the global disruption,” Liam Bailey, Global Head of Research and Editor-in-Chief of The Wealth Report at Knight Frank, said.
At the beginning of 2022, wealth managers reported that about 19 percent of the property portfolios owned by Kenyan HNWIs were held overseas, compared with an average of 32 percent of overseas holdings by HNWIs globally. In the year since, Kenyan HNWI’s overseas holdings have fallen further, to 11 percent, as they have actively exited foreign property markets.
The stronger investment environment in Africa also combined with key changes to investor visas – including the UK’s closure of its Tier 1 investor visa scheme in February 2022 – to reduce the number of Kenyan HNWIs planning to apply for foreign citizenship, which fell to 11 percent in 2023, compared to 28 percent a year ago.
Kenyan HNWIs favourite options for second home purchasing also shifted. Kenya remained the most popular choice, named as one of the top 5 locations by 60 percent of HNWIs, followed by the UK by 50 percent and US by 40 percent. Canada also increased in popularity, with 25 percent of the HNWIs including it in their top 5 locations. But, European locations Sweden, Denmark and Monaco disappeared from Kenyan HNWI’s top choices, while Egypt and Tanzania emerged as new entrants.
“In this general pivot away from international exposure and towards investment in Kenya and Africa, Kenya’s HNWIs are also the most optimistic in the world, with 50 percent expecting their wealth to increase by more than 10 percent in 2023. This compares with just 21 percent of global HNWIs expecting rises of the same level,” Mark Dunford, CEO Knight Frank Kenya, said.
Read: Real Estate: 3 Big-Money Plays Nairobi Investors are Making Revealed by Knight Frank MD
>>> Knight Frank Kenya Appoints New MD