The ranks of super-rich Kenyans with a net worth of more than $30 million (Sh3.3 billion) fell from 106 in 2019 to 90 in 2020, the Knight Frank Wealth Report has revealed. Some 16 Kenyans fell off the list as the Covid-19 pandemic and the economic shocks it occasioned saw most asset classes affected.
The Knight Frank survey had several financial institutions in Kenya among the participants, among them NCBA Bank Kenya, Stanbic Bank Kenya and ICEA Lion Group. Africa’s wealthy were also surveyed, with 88 per cent of them stating that the pandemic remained their biggest immediate worry.
Between January and December 2020 the market capitalization at the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) – the value of investor wealth at the bourse – fell by Ksh220 billion. When billionaire mogul Chris Kirubi, for example, acquired an additional 5.75 million shares of Centum Investment Company in January 2021, the firm had shed 43.6 per cent over the preceding 12 months.
His stake in the firm with interests in private equity, real estate and marketable securities is valued at around Ksh3.3 billion. When the last bull market at the NSE ended in 2015, Kirubi’s Centum stake was worth around Ksh12 billion.
He was one of several billionaire investors who suffered paper losses at the bourse. Equity Group CEO James Mwangi saw the value of his 5% stake in the market-leading bank fall by Ksh2.6 billion.
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While the Knight Frank report does not name individual moguls, the situation is representative of the economic climate in the past year; with numerous companies reporting losses and declining profits and undertaking down-sizing exercises and wage cuts to stay afloat, even as other organizations shut down altogether.
Knight Frank, however, predicts that the Ultra High Net Worth Individuals (UNHWI) in Kenya will rise to 110 by 2025. In Africa, Kenya ranked fourth in terms of the number of UNHWIs in Africa, trailing Nigeria (867), South Africa (742) and Egypt.
The global Knight Frank report also exposed the differences in what it takes to join the rank of the 1% in different countries.
It is hardest in Monaco, where tax laws mean you need to be worth almost $8 million (Ksh878 million) to make the list. Switzerland and the United States follow closely, with fortunes of Ksh559 million and Ksh483.1 million required respectively.
The entry point for Monaco’s richest 1% is nearly 400 times higher than in Kenya, the lowest ranked of 30 locations in Knight Frank’s report.