2,153 Billionaires Own More Than Combined Wealth of 4.6 Billion People

Billionaire Aziz Akhannouch drinks orange juice in Marrakech with former finance minister Salaheddine Mezouar. Photo credit: Magharebia, Flickr.

Rabat – In a report issued Monday, January 20, as the World Economic Forum begins meeting in Davos, Switzerland, Oxfam argues “inequality has reached extreme levels.” In the last 10 years, the number of billionaires in the world has doubled. The 2,153 current billionaires in the world own more than the combined wealth of 4.6 billion people.

At the same time, the percentage of the world’s population living in extreme poverty has decreased, from 15.7% in 2010, according to the World Bank, to 9% today, or 735 million people.

The report noted recent calls for the elimination of billionaires and an estimate that “two-thirds of billionaire wealth exists because of inheritance or is tainted by crony connections to government.”

Two Moroccans made it into Forbes’ list of billionaires in 2019: Aziz Akhannouch and Othman Benjelloun. Akhannouch, Morocco’s minister of agriculture and head of the National Rally of Independents (RNI) party, is the majority owner of the Akwa Group. 

Benjelloun is the CEO of BMCE Bank of Africa and was behind the inauguration of the Mohammed VI Tower under construction in Rabat, set to be Africa’s tallest building.

Oxfam’s report also comes just days after Africa’s wealthiest woman, billionaire Isabel dos Santos of Angola, faced renewed allegations of gaining her considerable wealth through corruption. 

Documents revealed that dos Santos, the daughter of the former president of Angola, was allowed to buy government property at low cost. Dos Santos also paid $58 million from the state oil company she ran to a friend’s consultancy firm, all around the time she was leaving the company.

Read also: Study: Moroccans Believe Courts Generally Protect the Wealthy

In addition to wealth inequality, care for family members, both children and the elderly, was at the heart of the Oxfam report, titled “Time to Care.” Women perform three-quarters of the world’s unpaid care work, a situation that the NGO describes as showing the “inherent inequalities in the economic system.”

Oxfam cites research that society would be better off if children aged 3-6 were sent to preschool programs instead of being cared for at home by family members. The current system, the NGO argues, “is a patriarchal economic and social structure that spreads sexist and racist attitudes and beliefs that drive women’s marginalization and the undervaluation of care.”

Instead of women providing care for needy family members, Oxfam suggests it is the state’s responsibility to provide.

Source: moroccoworldnews.com