Dar es Salaam. Some 435 Tanzanians became shilling billionaires (dollar millionaires) last year, according to the 2020 Knight Frank’s Wealth Report.
The latest entrants have a net worth of between Sh2.3 billion ($1 million) and Sh69 billion ($29 million) each.
President John Magufuli is on record as saying he would like to see 100 more billionaires in Tanzania during his time in office.
According to the report, a total of 5,553 Tanzanians were ranked among world’s High Net-Worth Individuals (HNWIs) last year, representing an increase of eight percent compared to 5,118 in 2018 - and 3,000 in 2014.
However, the report does not reveal the linkage of their wealth - as some in countries like Kenya are linked to politics.
It is projected in the report that the number of HNWIs in Tanzania will increase to 8,532 in the next four years.
The executive director of the National Economic Empowerment Council (NEEC), Ms Beng’i Issa, commented that political stability has remained the core factor for the increase of filthy -rich Tanzanians.
She said there has been increased entrepreneurship promotions which some Tanzanians exploited, with some prospereing while others failed to do so.
However, Ms Issa mentioned financial markets and technological innovations as other areas that have generated highly-wealthy Tanzanians.
A senior economist at the University of Dar es Salaam, Dr Abel Kinyondo, said this was a good thing economically - but only as far as they create positive impact for fellow Tanzanians at the bottom of the pyramid.
“This is a good sign that the economy which made them rich was doing well,” he said in a telephone interview yesterday.
But, he said, their wealth growth must not conflict with the welfare of those at the bottom, thus creating inequality.
Dr Kinyondo said that the magnitude of this development should result in the creation of decent jobs and business opportunities for other Tanzanians.
“When these billionaires are made, it should not be at the expense of those at the bottom: the very poor,” he said.
The report also shows that five Tanzanians jumped into the group of super wealthy persons known as Ultra-High Net-Worth Individuals (UHNWI) with a net worth of more than Sh70 billion ($30 million) up to Sh2.2 trillion ($999 million).
Tanzania had 114 out of the total of 302,360 UHNWIs in Africa in 2019, a rise from 109 in 2018 - and 61 in 2014. The number is projected to jump to 175 by 2024.
Tanzania was also forecast to be the sixth-highest growing UHNWIs population in the next five years, behind India, Egypt, Vietnam, China and Indonesia.
According to the report, Tanzania is the only East African Community (EAC) member state with a dollar billionaire whose net wealth is $1 billion (nearly Sh2.3 trillion) or more. The Forbes website mentions Tanzanian Mohammed Dewji, who is managing family business, as the only dollar billionaire in the region, with a net wealth of $1.6 billion in 2020.
Mo Dewji, working through the MeTL Group, has investments in manufacturing, agriculture, trading, finance, mobile telephony, insurance, real estate, transport and logistics, and food and beverages manufacturing.
Earlier reports mentioned other richest Tanzanians as Mr Rostam Aziz, Mr Salim Said Bakhressa, the late Mr Regnald Mengi, Mr Ally Awadh, Mr Shekhar Kanabar, Mr Fida-Hussein Rashid, Mr Subhash Patel, Mr Yusuf Manji and Mr Salim Turky.
But their wealth was below $1 billion each.