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Kenya’s super-rich individuals double in 10 years

BUSINESS
By Frankline Sunday | March 20th 2015

NAIROBI: The number of high net worth individuals in Kenya has doubled over the last ten years, an indication that the country is fast emerging as a millionaires’ haven.

New data on the country’s high net worth individuals indicates that Kenya has the fourth highest number of dollar millionaires in Africa standing at 8,764. In addition to this, at least 115 Kenyans are estimated to be worth more than $30 million (Sh2.7 billion) with 32 individuals crossing the $100 million (Sh9.1 billion) mark – centa-millionaires.

This is according to the latest edition of the Wealth Report by property consultancy firm Knight Frank released in Nairobi Thursday. “There’s a high concentration of wealth in Kenya because of the country’s emergence as a regional hub in Africa,” stated Mr Ben Woodhams, Knight Frank’s Kenya managing director. “Kenya’s ultra-wealthy have been investing in overseas property in the past and have now started focusing inwards, raising their stakes in the local property market. Real estate is the world’s primary investment of choice for the wealthy and Kenya is certainly no exception.”

Kenya is further said to be gaining from Cairo’s decline as a commercial hub in the continent given ongoing turmoil in Egypt and the Middle East. At the same time, the report says the realisation by international businesses that they cannot run the entire continent from Johannesburg in the southern tip, has created a vacuum that Nairobi is eagerly filling.

Several multinational corporations like Google, Pepsi, Visa and KFC have set up their regional headquarters in the country with others like Coca Cola, Airtel and Emirates expanding their presence to handle their regional business.

Last year luxury car dealer Porsche made an entry into Kenya, citing a growing appetite for luxury vehicles and sold out the entire first inventory in the first quarter. At the same time, newly discovered oil deposits are said to be increasing the country’s prospects, with the promise of cheaper energy alluring to local and external investors.

Kenya’s dollar millionaires are said to have increased from 8,764 in 2014 to at least 15,249 in 2024, a 74 per cent growth with the number of ultra-high net worth individuals forecast to grow by 82 per cent to 209 over the same period.

According to Anjali Harko, the head of Wealth and Investment at CfC Stanbic Bank, the increasing number of ultra-high net worth individuals is evident going by trends and demand for more refined financial services and packages.

“We are seeing high net worth individuals increasingly diversifying their asset classes although the predominant investment at the moment seems to be cash in the form of government and corporate securities locally and off shore,” she said. “We are also seeing a lot of them putting their money in property here in the country and also offshore.” Ms Harko further said the composition of HNWIs is largely businessmen, property investors, and also professionals like doctors, lawyers and bankers.

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