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Kenya’s top four wealthiest richer than 22 million people combined; Oxfam report

Kenya’s top four wealthiest have more wealth than nearly half of the population, a new report by the global movement on alleviation of poverty, Oxfam, has revealed.

Oxfam says the four super-rich persons — who have not been named — have a combined wealth of Sh333 billion, which is more than what 22 million poorest Kenyans (the bottom 40 percent) own.

In January 2022, an Oxfam report listed Samir Naushad Merali, Bhimji Depar Shah, Jaswinder Singh Bedi, and former President Uhuru Kenyatta’s family as the top four richest in the country, with a combined wealth of Sh311.7 billion.

According to Oxfam, the country’s richest 130 people in Kenya own wealth equal to 70% of the current budget (Sh3.3 trillion), or 19% of the GDP, in the latest data that demonstrate growing economic inequality in the nation (GDP).

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“The analysis shows that there are 1,890 individuals in Kenya with a net worth of $5 million (Sh615 million) or more, with wealth totaling $39.9 billion (Sh4.9 trillion). This also includes 130 individuals with $50 million (Sh6.15 billion) or more with a combined wealth of $18.7 billion (Sh2.3 billion),” Oxfam stated.

The 1,890 individuals, about 0.003 percent of Kenya’s population, own wealth equivalent to 37.8 percent of Kenya’s Sh12.09 trillion GDP by 2021.

“The analysis shows that the increasing extreme wealth of the rich and increasing extreme poverty of the poor driven by low taxes on the richest Kenyans by virtue of tax breaks, incentives, avoidance, and evasion, alongside unfairly higher taxes on poorest Kenyan, directly through income tax and indirectly through taxes on fuel, food, and basic commodities, is a social ill and a shame,” Dr. John Kitui, Oxfam Kenya’s Country Director, said.

Oxfam conducted the analysis together with the Fight Inequality Alliance, Institute for Policy Studies, and the Patriotic Millionaires, showing a growing level of extreme wealth in Kenya.

It showed that, in the past decade, Kenyans with a net worth of Sh615 million and above have seen their wealth grow by 72 percent in real terms. Their population, on the other hand, has grown by 134 percent, the analysis shows.

“Kenya super-rich are increasingly amassing enormous wealth even as most Kenyans grapple with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, rocketing prices of basic items, drought, and unemployment,” Oxfam notes.

The details reveal the growing economic inequalities, with millions of Kenyans across half of the country facing acute hunger.

Also read,

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