Where The Bling Is: Top Luxury Markets In Africa

Written by Dana Sanchez

Three months after the super-luxury Diamond Walk retail center opened in Johannesburg’s Sandton City mall, there are often more security guards than shoppers at the site, according to a report by Janice Kew in BusinessDayLive.

The numbers look a little different from the perspective of Julie Hillary, general manager of the mall. Hillary says about 24-million visited the mall each year for the past two years.

Of course that doesn’t mean they all bought something.

Those who do visit Diamond Walk include shoppers from Angola, Ghana, Kenya, and Nigeria, Hillary said. Built with a $14.5-million investment, Diamond Walk is attracting locals and “a large amount” of spending by wealthy Africans from outside South Africa.

Diamond Walk opened April with some of the world’s most expensive brands like Prada, Armani, Burberry, Dolce & Gabbana, Jimmy Choo, and Arque Champagne Crescent. Louis Vuitton and Gucci were already in the Sandton City Complex. They simply expanded to keep up with the Joneses.

The number of African millionaires is growing faster than the global average, increasing by 145 percent over the last 15 years through 2014, according to research company New World Wealth. That compares with a global average increase in the number of millionaires by 73 percent, BusinessDayLive reports.

Makers of the world’s most expensive goods are counting on Africans to spend their rising disposable income on $4,000 handbags and $2,500 bottles of champagne, BDLive reports.

But falling crude oil prices have hurt wealthy Nigerians and Angolans. In South Africa, fuel prices are going up and frequent power cuts are weighing on the economy, BDLive reports. Economic growth in sub-Sahara is expected to slow from 5 percent in 2014 to 4.5 percent this year, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Super-luxury companies with retail stores in Africa like Ermenegildo Zegna and Billionaire Italian Couture are hoping newly rich African customers will walk in their doors. They may have to wait a while, said Wayne McCurrie, a money manager at Momentum Wealth. “My guess is that they can take losses for 10 years even and see it as building a base now for when Africa really takes off.”

Johannesburg is home to the highest concentration of millionaires in Africa with 23,400, Quartz reports. Lagos, Nigeria, is a distant second with 9,100 millionaires. Nairobi has 6,200 millionaires, Luanda has 4,900; Accra has 2,250 and Lusaka has 500 millionaires.

These are the top luxury markets in Africa for 2014, according to Atlas.QZ.com, which cited The Africa 2015 Wealth Report.

Sources: Atlas, BusinessDayLive, SandtonCity, Quartz, The Africa 2015 Wealth Report.