Dr. William Ruto was sworn in as Kenya’s fifth President at a packed Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani on Tuesday, September 13. Besides 60,000 Kenyans, several high-powered international delegations including 20 African heads of state were present.
Also present were a number of influential figures from the world of business. Here, Business Today looks at three notable billionaires whose appearance at the inauguration caught our eye.
Forbes in 2017 estimated the net worth of Humphrey Kariuki to be around $70 million (Ksh8.4 billion). The magnate has interests in industries including oil, alcohol, manufacturing, hospitality and real estate. He is among Kenyan businessmen who backed Ruto in this year’s elections against his rival, Azimio la Umoja candidate Raila Odinga.
Ventures under his conglomerate – Janus Continental Group – include Africa Spirits, a leading manufacturer of brands including Bluemoon and Legend, Dalbit Petroleum, an oil distributor with a presence in several East and Southern Africa countries, Great Lakes Africa Energy, a developer and operator of power projects in Southern Africa as well as The Hub, a shopping mall in Nairobi’s upmarket Karen neighborhood and the 5-star Fairmont Mt. Kenya Safari Club.
He bagged a major victory this year when the courts quashed a three-year tax case against him and other directors of Africa Spirits. The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) was demanding Ksh41 billion claiming Africa Spirits failed to honor various tax obligations, but the High Court eventually found that the investigation was unconstitutional. The KRA filed a notice of appeal seeking to have the decision overturned.
Speaking to reporters at Kasarani ahead of Ruto’s inauguration, Kariuki welcomed the Ruto era stating that, in particular, he hoped that the government would make it easier for Kenyan companies to invest in other countries.
He also looked forward to friendlier relations with the taxman as promised by Ruto for businesses in the country.
Billionaire Humphrey Kariuki arrives for the inauguration of William Ruto and Rigathi Gachagua, shares his thoughts and expectations of the incoming government. #InaugurationDay2022 pic.twitter.com/4Bxpdasgio
— NTV Kenya (@ntvkenya) September 13, 2022
Aliko Dangote is the wealthiest person in Africa today, with his net worth estimated to be around $19.6 billion (Ksh2.3 Trillion) as of 20 August 2022. He is the founding Chairman and CEO of Dangote Group – West Africa’s largest industrial conglomerate.
The conglomerate has industrial operations spanning sugar, salt, flour, fertilizer, cement, oil and more. He has previously expressed interest in setting up a cement manufacturing plant in Kenya.
Notably, Ruto’s government has promised to lower the prices of fertilizer by 50% from next week. He stated that the government had already made available 1.4 million bags of fertilizer to help shore up food production with the expected short rains.
He has also maintained that his administration will prioritize heavy investment in agriculture and agro-processing to tackle the high cost of living, creating opportunities in the agribusiness sector.
Meg Whitman – US Ambassador to Kenya
Meg Whitman attended the inauguration in her capacity as the US Ambassador to Kenya, as part of a delegation led by US Trade Representative Katherine Tai, but the former tech executive is worth a reported $3.2 billion (Ksh385 billion).
She was confirmed by the US Senate as Ambassador to Kenya in July after being nominated by US President Joe Biden. Whitman, who had stints as CEO of eBay, HP and Quibi, has promised to foster collaboration in key sectors including technology and financial services. The Ruto administration has promised massive investments in connectivity and the digital economy.
“Kenya is well-positioned to be an African leader in information technology, telecommunications, and mobile banking and is open to partnering with the United States,” Whitman previously told the US Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health Policy.
“Working with Kenya to assemble the infrastructure, connectivity, and expertise needed to help build the country’s ‘Silicon Savannah’ will be a big part of my mission, and an opportunity I hope numerous US companies will eagerly embrace,” she added.