With inequality rising, does the world really need billionaires?

With inequality rising, does the world really need billionaires?
emonstrators take part in a global protest campaigning against inequality in Nairobi, Kenya, ahead of the Davos World Economic Forum. Photo: Baz Ratner/Reuters

Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets of cities around the world demanding action against growing inequality.

This as world leaders rub shoulders with billionaire executives at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

The WEF has been an annual event for the world’s richest elite since its foundation in 1971.

It has also become an anathema for those who claim global inequality is out of control.

In cities around the world including Nairobi, Delhi, Manila and London, thousands of people joined street protests in the run up to the forum.

Antonia Musonga, who is coordinating protests in Kenya under the Fighting Equality Alliance, explained why his group has taken to the streets of Nairobi.

“The time to abolish billionaires is now,” Musonga told VOA.

“Because what it means for us is that those people with a lot of wealth, they also have access to power, privilege, influence over our democracy and how we live our lives today.”

There are over 2,100 billionaires in the world.

A report by charity group Oxfam says they own more wealth than the poorest 4.6 billion people on Earth – and the gap between rich and poor is widening, with half the world’s population living in poverty.

Anti-government demonstrations have erupted in more than 30 countries in recent months, from Chile to France, South Africa to South Korea. Their political aims may vary but they share the same anger, says Oxfam’s Amitabh Behar. “

Across the world, there is a narrative of anger,” Behar said.

“People are coming to the streets and they’re essentially asking, ‘do we need billionaires in this world?’ And that’s the critical question that the World Economic Forum should try and answer. The billionaires need to pay their taxes but I think the real responsibility lies with the government. Government needs to ensure that everybody pays the right taxes.”

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