Central banks around the world were very active in the gold market in 2022, according to the annual report of the World Gold Council (WGC). They bought 1,136 tons of gold worth $70 billion, or 24% of the estimated global demand of 4,741 tons.
This is the largest gold purchase by central banks since 1967, i.e. for 55 years, enabling them to further secure their reserves. This gold rush is taking place, amid the global economic crisis.
Tunisia ranks eighth in Africa in terms of gold reserves, with its central bank holding 6.8 tons of the precious metal.
Gold sales reached a record high in 2022, with central banks buying no less than 862 tons of gold in the second half of the year. Data from the World Gold Council (WGC) showed that gold demand was driven by massive central bank buying and continued strong retail investment. Gold purchases last year were the highest since 1950.
In Africa, the Bank of Algeria (27th in the world) retained its status as the continent’s largest gold holder with 174.6 tons, followed by Egypt (125.5 tons) and South Africa (175.4 tons).
The fourth and fifth largest African countries in terms of gold reserves are Libya and Morocco, with 116.6 tons and 22.1 tons of gold, respectively.
Ranked sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth are Nigeria (21.5 tons), Tunisia (6.8 tons), Mozambique (3.9 tons) and Mauritania (1 ton), completing the top 10 African countries in terms of gold reserves.
The United States, Germany, the IMF and Italy account for almost half (48%) of the world’s reserves, or 1,654 tons, according to the WGC’s annual report on gold demand trends.
Last year’s record gold sales were partly due to increased demand for gold from central banks and investors as global economic conditions stagnated and inflation raised the cost of living.
The WGC data also shows a significant change in attitude towards gold, as central banks began selling hundreds of tons of their gold bullion each year in the 1990s and 2000s, particularly in Europe.
The WGC report estimates global gold reserves at 35,494 tons at the end of 2022. However, this may be an underestimate as many countries do not declare all their holdings. Nevertheless, gold remains a preferred investment for investors around the world, including in Africa, where several countries have significant gold reserves.