The number of dollar millionaires in South Africa has risen 9% since 2007 despite the significant depreciation of the rand against the US dollar, according to a new report. By 2017, the number of dollar millionaires in South Africa is forecast to grow by 19%, to reach about 55 500.

Over the period of the report, from 2007-14, the rand lost 41% of its value. Asset price performance ranged from 127% for the "Classic Car index" while fine wines lost 1% dollar values, and local residential property declined 21.2%. This is opposed to a 293% rise during the seven-year period between 2000 and 2007, which created many property millionaires, particularly in Cape Town. Wealth distribution continues to be vastly unequal, but is closing.

In 2014, just under a third - 31% of high net wealth individuals came from previously disadvantaged backgrounds.

Over the review period, the number of white dollar millionaires declined 13%, while those of Indian, Coloured and African grew 172% and 113% respectively.

Across the world, wealth held by individuals amounted to about $195-trillion at the end of 2014 - with 13-million dollar millionaires. Their collective worth stood at $66-trillion.

South Africa’s population of 53-million held $585bn in net assets (or wealth) at the end of 2014, with the 46,800 dollar millionaires in SA holding $184bn of this - roughly 31%.

The average South African individual had net assets of $11,040 at the end of 2014, which is below the worldwide average of $27,600.

Johannesburg remains the location of choice for South Africa’s 1% - with more than half of South Africa’s high net worth individuals. Durban and its immediate surrounds have however experienced the fastest growth in the period.

According to New World Wealth analyst Andrew Amoils, the number of dollar millionaires in Durban has grown 200% since 2000, compared to national average growth rate of 135%.

Financial services is the main industry from which South African multimillionaires have acquired their wealth. "It is the primary source of wealth for 20% of local multimillionaires. Other important industries for them include real estate and construction (16%), basic materials (14%) and diversified (12%)."

The fastest growing sectors for South African multimillionaires over the review period were telecoms, insurance (part of financial services) and healthcare, the report read.

The report gave South Africa an overall score of 5/10 in factors that speak to future wealth creation, such as free media, strong ownership rights, ease of investment and low levels of government intervention.

-additional reporting Business Day.