People with political connections control more than 50 per cent of the Kenya’s wealth that is owned by individuals, a new report has shown.
Highlighting this as one of the factors that could negatively impact on Kenya economic growth in future, the Wealth in Kenya 2014 report says that a common thread running through almost all the dollar millionaires is their political connections as well as their ownership of large tracts of land.
The list of the wealthy political dynasties and billionaire landowners reflects Kenya’s top political leadership.
However, the report does not give details about how their wealth was acquired and does not suggest in any way that the wealth was acquired irregularly.
The Kenyatta, Moi, Kibaki, Karume, Kulei, Biwott, Nyachae, Odinga, Saitoti, Michuki and Mwau families are listed among the wealthiest in the report compiled by a British organisation. The same families also own large tracks of land.
Other large individual land owners include Mr Swaleh Nguru, Mr Saleh Said Sherman, Mr Tahir Sheikh Said (TSS) and Kamlesh Pattni.
The group is likely to get even richer because property prices continue to rise.
According to the report, Kenya’s residential property prices rose by four per cent in dollar terms and 42 per cent in shilling terms, fuelled by strong economic growth and high demand by foreign buyers particularly in Nairobi and coastal area.
The price of top end property in Nairobi was valued at $1,700 per square metre in 2013, according to a Knight Frank report. This made Nairobi the fourth most expensive city in Africa for property after Cape Town, Johannesburg and Luanda. Nairobi also ranked ahead of Lagos.
Some of the families have been selling the land and this has raised their cash holding.
THE KENYATTA FAMILY
The family of the founding father of the nation is one of the richest in Kenya. President Uhuru Kenyatta is a scion of the family.
Going by the rankings of the New World Wealth report, the family can be ranked among centimillionaires, whose wealth range between $100 million and $1 billion.
The family, with Enke Holdings at the core of its wealth, has interests in banking — with a stake in Commercial Bank of Africa — tourism (Heritage Hotels among others), mining, insurance, airline, education, real estate and energy. It also has interests in telecommunications, dairy farming (through Brookside Dairies) and transport.
The size of land owned by the Kenyatta family remains the subject of debate but according to the Ndung’u Commission report published in December 2004, the family has about 94 acres in Kiambu in the name of Jomo Kenyatta’s widow Mama Ngina. It also has 89 acres and 59 acres in Thika District.
The family is believed to own land in Endebbes, Rumuruti, Nakuru, Naivasha, Nairobi and Thika but its exact acreage is unknown.
THE MOI FAMILY
Retired president Daniel arap Moi, who ruled Kenya for 24 years, ranks among the richest Kenyans with an estimated wealth in hundreds of billions of shillings. In line with the New World Wealth report, the Moi family easily fits in the centimillionaire category.
The family has interests in various sectors, including banking where they hold shares in more than two banks, the oil industry, insurance, hotel and tourism, maritime and freight, media, manufacturing, airline and transport. The Moi family is also big in land ownership, real estate and education.
The late Prof Saitoti, who was plucked from the University of Nairobi by President Moi in 1983 was also ranked among the richest politicians in Kenya.
Prof Saitoti was vice-president for more than 10 years and held ministerial positions in various dockets before he met his death in a plane crash in June 2012.
He had business interests in horticulture, hotel and tourism, real estate and pastoralism. Going by the New World Wealth report, he is an affluent millionaire and his worth ranges from $30 million to $100 million.
A powerful minister under President Moi, Mr Biwott is a skilled businessman who built his business empire in various sectors. Ranked as a centimillionaire ($100 million to $1 billion) by the New Wealth World report, he has his anchor business as a key shareholder in Kobil, an oil marketer. He has also invested heavily in energy, mining, telecommunications, tourism, agriculture, banking and real estate.
A no-nonsense minister and administrator, the late Michuki was one of the richest Kenyans whose worth is between $30 million and $100 million. His business interests are in hotels with the Windsor Golf and Country Club as the flagship. He also owned several commercial buildings in Nairobi and other real estate assets besides interests in agriculture.
THE ODINGA FAMILY
The Odinga family is also among the wealthiest with political connections.
The patriach, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, was Kenya’s first vice-president under Jomo Kenyatta while his son, Raila Odinga, was Prime Minister in the Grand Coalition government whose tenure ended in March last year.
The family has interests in oil and gas, manufacturing and agriculture.
The former President and long-serving MP for Othaya is also among Kenya’s wealthiest politicians.
Besides large tracts of land, Mr Kibaki is reputed to have investments in hotels, agriculture especially tea growing, insurance, real estate and telecommunications. He is also into banking and fashion industry.
The former chief secretary, Cabinet minister and provincial administrator has investments in manufacturing through his flagship Sansora Holdings. He also has interests in agriculture, insurance, transport, banking, and logistics. He is also said to own ranches in Australia, Zimbabwe and South Africa.
The wealth of businessman cum politician John Harun Mwau is in the league of billions of shillings.
In an interview with the Nation about two years ago, Mr Mwau said he had invested billions in the US. He is one of the major shareholders of Nakumatt Holdings, a leading supermarket chain in the region.
His name has also been associated with the troubled Charterhouse Bank. He has a stake in a number of companies locally and abroad especially in the Middle East and Asia.
Also in the list of the wealthy people who have political connections are Mr Joshua Kulei, who was an aide to President Moi. He has business interests in insurance, logistics, media and petroleum.
The late Njenga Karume, whose ties spanned across past political administrations, also had immense wealth with investments in agriculture, real estate, banking, hotels and insurance sectors.