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Farms, schools and hotels that form part of the Moi empire

Saturday August 01 2020
MERICA HOTEL NAKURU

Merica Hotel in Nakuru town on August 1, 2020. PHOTO | RICHARD MAOSI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By BRIAN WASUNA
By VINCENT ACHUKA

Sian Roses: The company is one of Kenya’s biggest flower growers and exporters, as it plants at least three million different rose stems each year. Sian Roses was founded in 1995 and currently has three large farms in Kitengela, Njoro and Eldoret, each under a separate subsidiary. The Njoro farm is under Agriflora Limited and was set up in 1995; the Eldoret farm under Equator Flowers Kenya Limited and was set up in 1997; while the Kitengela farm was established in 2008 under Maasai Flowers Limited. The three farms produce over 30 different types of roses in greenhouses, which are mostly exported to Europe, the USA, Dubai and Australia.

Merica Hotel:  The hotel in Nakuru opened its doors in 2000 and is one of the biggest players in the town’s hospitality industry. The facility boasts 89 luxury rooms, four junior suites and a luxurious executive suite. These are requirements for a facility to be ranked as a four-star hotel, but Merica is ranked as a three-star outfit.

Africa Diatomite Industries Limited: The firm was founded by Cole Estates Limited, a group of British settlers, in 1942. The settlers had found huge diatomite deposits in Kariandusi, near Gilgil. In 1965, the newly independent government of Kenya acquired all of ADIL’s assets through the Industrial Commercial and Development Co-operation (ICDC).

 In 1993, President Daniel arap Moi’s administration opted to offload its stake in 207 out of the 240 firms it had shares in, and the World Bank came in to support the privatisation project. ADIL was among the firms to be axed. Crown Berger Limited acquired all shares for Sh45 million. Somewhere along the way, Mr Moi’s Sovereign Group Limited acquired ADIL for an undisclosed amount. The firm has access to over six million tonnes of diatomite and has clients in East, Central and Southern Africa.

911 Group: The security firm was founded in 1995, and has since expanded to Uganda. Apart from guarding services, 911 Group also offers car tracking services, emergency response, fleet and asset management and other aspects of security services.

Kenyaweb.com: One of Kenya’s first web development companies, kenyaweb.com was founded in 1996 as Form-Net Africa Limited. Being one of the industry pioneers, kenyaweb.com reaped big when companies were just starting to set up websites and follow their clients online. The company has three subsidiaries – Web Link Services Limited, Cyber.Cafe and Kenyaonline. In the late 90s, kenyaweb.com enjoyed 40 per cent market share in the web development and internet service provision industry.

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Kenya Bixa Limited:  Just four months before Jomo Kenyatta’s death, then vice-president Daniel arap Moi incorporated Kenya Bixa Limited, a food processing firm, in Ukunda, Kwale County. A few years earlier, Japan had introduced the plant to Kenya. Bixa is a hardy crop that can grow easily without supervision, and is the main ingredient in food colouring. Despite the ease in growing the crop, it had few takers owing to low returns that cannot benefit small-scale farmers. Today, Kenya Bixa Limited is one of the biggest food colouring producers in Africa and some of its clients are in Europe and the Americas.

Mobile World Kenya Limited:  The firm started as a mobile phones trader and Safaricom dealer, but has since expanded into an all-out electronics shop. The firm sells appliances and accessories in Nairobi, the Rift Valley region and what was previously Western province.

Regent Group:  Yet another venture that Mr Moi set up in 1995, the group is composed of Regent Management Limited, Regent Valuers International (K) Limited and Regent Estates Limited. The Regent Group markets itself as a service property consultancy and enjoys a significant portion of the market share. It has offices in Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru, Kisumu and Kampala and plans to expand into other parts of the East African region.

Kiptagich Tea Estates Limited: This is one of the earliest properties that Mr Moi acquired while at State House, and of late has become one of the most controversial. The 2,333-acre land was part of the Mau Forest, and the Narok County Council allegedly allocated it to the President as a ploy to hold it in trust for the community and ward off grabbers.

But Mr Moi went on to cut down the Mau trees that were to be protected and set up a tea farm and factory on the property. Today, the factory produces up to six million kilogrammes of tea every year, 75 per cent of which is exported. Environment CS Keriako Tobiko last year hinted that the government will repossess the prime land Kiptagich sits on, noting that the big fish will not be spared in the Mau Forest evictions.

Schools:  Sacho High School, Moi High School Kabarak, Rift Valley Technical Institute and Kabarak University: Mr Moi placed a lot of sentimental value on the learning institutions, perhaps as a show of his love for education that also served as a reminder of his days as a teacher.

The Kabarak school came up first, in 1979, after Mr Moi took over 100 acres from the family of Ginger Bell. The butcher’s son, Malcolm, has since obtained court orders for recovery of the land. Sacho High School opened in 1982, after locals contributed money for a community school. The same happened at Rift Valley Technical Institute.

Standard Group: The former President acquired a significant stake in the Standard Group in 1995 from the Lonhro Group, as he was preparing to take one final stab at the presidency. The media outfit has since expanded to include KTN News, BTV, Farmers TV, Standard Newspaper, The Nairobian, Mt Kenya Star, Radio Maisha, Vybez Radio and Spice FM.

Mr Moi acquired Standard Group when the Lonhro Group, a team of British investors, was exiting Kenya. The Lonhro Group had acquired it from Alibhai Mulla Jevanjee. The firm has considerable assets that make it worth billions.

Siginon Group: Formed in 1985, Siginon Group has grown into one of East Africa’s biggest and most profitable logistics and air cargo transporters. The firm’s clientele lies in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Somali, Northern DR Congo and Southern Sudan.

Intercontinental Hotel: Mr Moi initially owned a 19.3 per cent stake in Intercontinental Hotel before upping its shareholding to 53 per cent in 2018. This essentially gave the Moi family a majority shareholding of the iconic hotel.

Lake Bogoria Spa Resort: The firm was put up in 1995, and owns a luxurious hotel in Bogoria. Aside from its luxury fittings and furnishing, the facility is famed for a natural spa with steam from the famous Bogoria hot Springs. Documents at the Registrar of Companies indicate that Philip co-owned the hotel with his father.

Land: Mr Moi acquired thousands of acres in Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru, Eldoret and Nandi, but family sources indicate that he already shared these with his children long before his death.

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