CAPE TOWN: Estimates about the potential growth of high net worth individuals (HNWIs) in Africa are "vastly understated" and the continent can also expect its population of billionaires to almost double, a leading international banker has stated.

Margaret Nienaber, global head of Standard Bank's Private Clients business, told How We Made It In Africa that she expected the number of HNWIs to increase in South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya over the next few years with as much as 28% growth in East Africa alone by 2017.

She said other African countries that have seen impressive rates of growth include Angola, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Mozambique, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

"I think in terms of the statistics that are shown on the wealth potential in Africa – that are showing very positive trends – we at Standard Bank believe those trends are vastly understated and the potential is much bigger than what people think it is," she said.

To be included among this select group, HNWIs are defined as individuals with the potential for net investable assets in excess of $1m and Nienaber noted that their numbers increased 14% in South Africa between 2007-08 and 2013 and grew as much as 24% in Kenya.

Nienaber also expected the number of billionaires in Africa to increase by 81% between 2014 and 2018 compared to what Forbes, the business consultancy, estimates will be global growth of 50% over the same period.

Turning to how HNWIs spend their money, Nienaber highlighted travel and lifestyle as key areas, although investment in property and equities remain popular choices.

She expected to see more investment in art and collectables, but also noted that philanthropy and education were highly valued in Africa.

"I think passion and purpose is something that we are also starting to see more of," Nienaber said. "So by passion, I mean investing in art and collectables – still very much a favourite – and then purpose when you look at philanthropy."

Data sourced from How We Made It In Africa; additional content by Warc staff