Kenya has a total of 1,755 individuals whose fortunes exceed 5 million dollars (567 million shillings). Their combined wealth stands at 4.2 trillion shillings, a figure equivalent to 41 percent of the country’s GDP.
A new report by Oxfam has revealed that the two richest people in Kenya have more wealth than 16.5 million fellow citizens, depicting a massive gap in wealth distribution in the country.
Oxfam International ranked Sameer Naushad Merali and Bhimji Depar Shah as Kenya’s richest with a net worth of 790 million dollars (approximately 89.6 billion shillings) and 750 million dollars (85 billion shillings) respectively.
The data further revealed that industrialist families in the country dominate the ranking of wealthy Kenyans.
The Merali family built their wealth from diverse investments including telecommunications, manufacturing, agriculture, banking, and real estate.
The Shah family, on the other hand, headed by the Depar Shah, made their fortunes from the Bidco Group of Companies – the household consumer goods manufacturer.
Among the top 5 richest in Kenya also included the textile manufacturer Jaswinder Singh Bedi at 680 million dollars (77.1 billion shillings), Mahendra Rambhai Patel at 430 million dollars (48.7 billion shillings), and President Uhuru Kenyatta at 530 million (60 billion shillings),
Mahendra Rambhai Patel owns Ramco Group, an industrial conglomerate with diverse investments in print, hardware, manufacturing, office supply, and property sectors.
President Uhuru’s net worth, says Oxfam, is likely associated with the wider Kenyatta family. This is also what Forbes magazine indicated when it listed the Kenyan President with a net worth of 500 million dollars.
The Kenyatta family holds numerous interests in the country in a variety of sectors including banking, milk processing, transport, media, hospitality, and land.
The data from Oxfam is based on figures sourced from Wealth-X, the organization keeping track of the world’s wealthiest individuals.
“Between 2016 and 2021, the number of individuals with wealth over $50 million increased from 80 to 120. Their combined wealth increased from $12.73 billion to $17.4 billion, an increase of 36.8 percent, adjusted for inflation,” noted Oxfam.
Although the fortunes seem to favor only a few individuals in the country, Kenya is yet to make the list of the dollar billionaires.
South Africa already has five, dollar billionaires, Nigeria has three, Morocco follows with two, and one in Zimbabwe.
Most of these billionaires accumulated their wealth from commodities and natural resources.
So far, Africa has 19-dollar billionaires with a combined net worth of 73.4 billion dollars – that is a whopping 8.3 trillion shillings. This latest figure by Oxfam states that the billionaires’ fortune grew by 8 billion dollars (h904 billion shillings) since the onset of the Covid pandemic in March 2020.
Aliko Dangote remains the wealthiest African with a net worth of 13.5 billion dollars (1.5 trillion shillings) from his investments in cement manufacturing, sugar and salt milling, mining, logistics, and energy.
Egypt’s Nassef Sawiris follows with a fortune worth 8.2 billion dollars. He owns Orascom Construction and has interests in other areas such as the fertilizer, sportswear, and cement sectors.
Nicky Oppenheimer of South Africa is the third wealthiest African at 7.9 billion dollars, largely made from the sale of his family’s stake in the De Beers diamond mining company in 2012.
Meanwhile, Kenya has a total of 1,755 individuals whose fortunes exceed 5 million dollars (567 million shillings). Their combined wealth stands at 4.2 trillion shillings, a figure equivalent to 41 percent of the country’s GDP.
These figures present an ironic situation in a country where more than 24 million people are living in poverty. It is, therefore, true to say that Kenya still has a long way to go to be finally considered among the top one percent countries in terms of wealth.
The inclusion in the top one percent wealthiest means that the people of that country can afford and access quality education, healthcare, and transport. The same cannot be said about Kenya.
The middle-class person still can’t afford to buy land and build a decent house in the outskirts of Nairobi! The luckiest, those with the largest concentration of wealth, partly accumulated their fortunes from the previous centralized form of government that dictated resource sharing since the country got its independence.