The four richest people in Kenya have more wealth than almost half of the population, a new report by global poverty alleviation movement, Oxfam, has revealed.
Oxfam says the four richest people – who have not been named – have a wealth of 333 billion shillings, more than the poorest 22 million Kenyans (the bottom 40 percent have).
Another Oxfam report released in January last year listed Samir Naushad Merali, Bhimji Depar Shah, Jaswinder Singh Bedi and the family of former President Uhuru Kenyatta among the four richest people in the country, with a total wealth of 311.7 billion shillings.
In new results that show the growing economic inequality in the country, Oxfam also revealed that the 130 richest people in Kenya have wealth equivalent to 70% of the country’s current budget (3.3 trillion shillings), or 19% of the national income (GDP).
“The analysis shows that there are 1,890 people in Kenya worth 5 million dollars (615 million shillings) or more, with a total wealth of 39.9 billion dollars (4.9 trillion, this also includes 130 people with 50 million dollars (6.15 billion shillings) or more . with a total wealth of 18.7 billion dollars (2.3 billion shillings),” Oxfam said.
1,890 people, or about 0.003% of Kenya’s population, have wealth equal to 37.8% of Kenya’s GDP of 12.09 trillion shillings by 2021.
“The analysis shows that the increasing wealth of the rich and the increasing poverty of the poor is fueled by lower taxes on the wealthiest Kenyans under tax breaks, incentives, avoidance and evasion, as well as higher taxes on the poorest Kenyans, directly. through revenue and indirectly through taxes on fuel, food and goods, it is a social disease and a shame,” said Dr John Kitui, Oxfam’s country director in Kenya.
Oxfam conducted the analysis with the Coalition to Fight Inequality, the Institute for Policy Studies and National Millionaires, showing the growing level of extreme wealth in Kenya.
It showed that in the last ten years, Kenyans with a wealth of 615 million shillings and more have seen their wealth increase by 72 percent in real terms. Their number, on the other hand, has increased by 134%, according to the analysis.
“Kenya’s ultra-rich are increasingly amassing wealth even as many Kenyans are dealing with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, rising commodity prices, drought and unemployment,” notes Oxfam.