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202 Kenyans become billionaires in one year

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Knight Frank’s annual Wealth Report says the number of dollar millionaires in the country rose by 202 to 8,962 up from 8,760 reported the previous year when the economy is estimated to have grown at a moderate pace of 5.5 per cent.

The report shows that 10 Kenyans joined the billionaires’ club — meaning their net worth rose to more than $10 million — pushing the total number of billionaires in the country to 462.

Kenya has one dollar billionaire —  Ksh100 billion — and 16 with more than Ksh10 billion. Knight Frank partners with South Africa-based Standard Bank to compile the African segment of the global report.

Standard Bank has a wide presence in Africa which it uses to collect and collate the data, including in Kenya where it is the majority shareholder at CFC Stanbic Bank. CFC Stanbic declined to comment on the report for this article insisting that country specific findings are embargoed.

A majority of the wealthy in Kenya — 6,527 dollar millionaires — reside in Nairobi, 952 live in coastal town of Mombasa while the remaining 1,483 are dispersed across the country.  Analysts identified land as the key driver of wealth expansion for the ultra-rich who have been cashing in after holding onto the property for many years.

“With respect to Kenya, I think a great deal of the super-rich’s outperformance of the economy is derived from land. We have seen outstanding absolute returns in the value of land,” said Aly-Khan Satchu, an analyst and chief executive of data vending firm Rich Management.

Land prices in Kenya have rallied in the past decade following increased infrastructural development that has opened up new locations for investment. Last year land was the best performing asset class whose returns stood at an average of 15 per cent.

The ranks of the super-rich grew even as companies continued to struggle under harsh economic conditions that forced 18 listed companies to warn that they expect full-year earnings to drop by at least 25 per cent. Manufacturing companies, especially in the steel sector, have been scaling back their operations citing the steep drop in commodity prices.

X.N Iraki, a lecturer at University of Nairobi’s Business School, said nothing was really unique about the outcome since it is the ability to make money during hard times that sets the wealthy apart. (BDafrica.com)

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