The richest and most influential leaders on the planet have ended their annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland even as a new startling report by Oxfam shows the world’s richest one per cent grabbed nearly two-thirds of all new wealth worth $42 trillion (Sh4,200 trillion) created since 2020.
This is almost twice as much money as the bottom 99 per cent of the world’s population.
As food and energy prices skyrocketed to be out of reach for the billions of poor citizens, especially in Africa in the recent past, the report shows billionaire wealth surged in 2022.
Over 95 food and energy corporations more than doubled their profits last year alone, making $306 billion (Sh37.94 trillion) in profits, and paying out $257 billion (Sh31.87 trillion) (84 per cent) of that to their rich shareholders.
A tax of up to only five per cent on the world’s multi-millionaires and billionaires could raise $1.7 trillion (Sh210.8 trillion) a year, which is enough to lift two billion people out of poverty.
And therein lies the most puzzling question, what is so hard about doing the right thing and caring for the vulnerable?
Compared to what the wealthy have, five per cent is negligible. Lifting two billion people out of poverty is a reasonable proposition that the business elite ought to pursue, if not for its morality then for the business case.
As global wealth inequality continues to expand, efforts by the rich to grow their wealth will neither be feasible nor sustainable in the long run without lifting the world’s poor into the middle-class segment to enhance their purchasing power.
Broadening the middle class in the global south will be one of the primary forces that will sustain the global economy and propel it into a more sustainable future while creating more wealth.
Over 100 million people were recorded to be displaced last year, the highest figure in history. More than 80 per cent of the world’s displaced people are in countries affected by acute food insecurity, poverty and malnutrition.
These people will continue to try their best to get to the developed world in search of a better life for as long as the prospects remain grim at home.
The idea behind Davos is to bring together global stakeholders to discuss matters aimed at solving the world’s problems and making a positive impact.
There can be no positive impact where only one party, in this case the rich, is winning at the expense of the poor. Indeed if only one party is winning, we’re both losing.
The writer is the MD at strategic communications firm Calla PR