Kenya’s richest families own more wealth than 22 million Kenyans combined

Kenya’s wealth gap is staggering.

Kenya has seen a significant increase in economic inequality in recent years, according to a new report by Oxfam International. The study reveals that the country’s top four richest families have more wealth than nearly half of the entire population.

The four richest families, previously identified as the Bhimji Depar Shah and Jaswinder Singh Bedi families, as well as the Uhuru family and the family of the late Kenyan tycoon Naushad Merali, have a combined wealth of $2.8 billion, which is more than what the bottom 40 percent of the poorest 22 million Kenyans own.

The report, which was released on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where activists have piled pressure on governments to tax the rich, places Kenya among the 20 countries with the greatest combined assets of individuals in the dollar-multimillionaire bracket.

Despite not having a businessman worth more than $1 billion, Kenya, the largest economy in the East African region, has seen the number of dollar multimillionaires in the country more than double in the last 10 years, from 2012 to 2022.

The report by Oxfam, Patriotic Millionaires, the Institute for Policy Studies, and the Fight Inequality Alliance, which draws its data from Forbes and Wealth X, disclosed that the number of individuals with a net worth of $5 million has surged by 134.7 percent in the past decade to 1,890.

Of these individuals, 130 have a net worth of more than $50 million and a combined wealth of $18.7 billion.

The wealth gap in Kenya is staggering. The country’s top 130 individuals hold a combined fortune equivalent to a staggering 70 percent of the current national budget of $26 billion and 19 percent of the country’s GDP. This disparity highlights the urgent need for economic reform and equitable distribution of wealth in Kenya.

According to Oxfam, Kenya has the highest combined assets of individuals in the multi-millionaire threshold on the continent, with South Africa being the only other African country on the list.

The number of Kenyans worth more than $5 million rose by 72.4 percent since 2012, while those with a net worth higher than $50 million expanded by 64.3 percent.

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