The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: 'Uhuru Is Richest Citizen'

FORBES Magazine has listed Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta as worth US$500 million (Sh47.5 billion) making him the 26th richest person in Africa and the richest Kenyan in their line-up. Forbes released its list of the 40 richest Africans yesterday. The next Kenyan on the list is businessman Chris Kirubi at number 31 worth $300 million.

Forbes is famous for its annual global Rich List which reports the 1,000 richest people in the world. "Kenya's Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta is the son of Kenya's first President Jomo Kenyatta, and heir to some of the largest land holdings in Kenya," Forbes stated.

The magazine claimed that Uhuru and the family own vast amounts of prime land across the country. "The land was acquired by his father in the 1960s and 1970s when the British colonial government and the World Bank funded a settlement transfer fund scheme that enabled government officials and wealthy Kenyans to acquire land from the British at very low prices," Forbes explains.

However the Kenyatta family has always insisted that its landholdings are not that extensive. Few, if any, land titles are likely to bear Uhuru Kenyatta's name. "Uhuru and his family also own Brookside Dairies, Kenya's largest dairy company, as well as stakes in popular television station K24 and a commercial bank in Nairobi, among other interests," Forbes states in its short section on Uhuru.

Uhuru, the Kanu chairman, has declared that he will be standing in the 2012 presidential election even if the ICC confirms that he should go for a full trial on charges of crimes against humanity. "Even if the assessment of his personal wealth is exaggerated, the Forbes report can only help Uhuru at election time. His biggest selling point will be that he does not need to be corrupt because he is already wealthy," said a political analyst yesterday.

The Forbes list may not be completely accurate. Various families and individuals including former President Moi and his son Gideon are believed to be wealthier that the Kenyattas. The richest man in Africa is Nigerian Aliko Dangote, with a $10.1 billion fortune based on his stake in publicly-traded Dangote Cement as well as his interests in flour milling, sugar refining and salt processing. The second richest man is South African diamond magnate Nicky Oppenheimer with a $6.5 billion fortune.

Forbes focused on African citizens excluding potential members like Sudanese-born billionaire Mo Ibrahim who is a UK citizen; South African-born Ivan Glasenberg, CEO of commodities trader Glencore, who is Australian citizen; and former South African billionaire Donald Gordon, now a British citizen and who lives in the UK. "We calculated the fortunes using stock prices and currency exchange rates from close of business Wednesday, November 2.

To value privately-held businesses we couple estimates of revenues or profits with prevailing price-to-sales or price-to-earnings ratios for similar public companies. "We have purposely excluded dispersed family fortunes such as the Chandaria family of Kenya and the Madhvanis of Uganda, because the wealth is believed to be held by dozens of family members. We do include wealth belonging to a member's immediate relatives if the wealth can be traced to one living individual; in that case, you'll see "& family" on our list as an indication," said Forbes.

In September at the International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo asked if Uhuru was indeed a rich man. He replied that he did not consider himself a poor person but did not elaborate further.

Kirubi, 70, has built an empire spanning real estate, manufacturing and investments. His real estate holdings include Nairobi's International House building. He is said to own residential and commercial properties across the city, valued at more than $200 million. "People say I am one of the richest people in Kenya, but that's not my concern," he is quoted by Forbes.

"When I look around at my companies and see the number of people we have employed, it gives me joy. It is more satisfying than having all the money in the world," he adds.

Kirubi started building his fortune in the early 1970s. After working for several years at Kenatco, he began acquiring run-down residential and commercial properties in Nairobi. He renovated them and flipped them for a profit. Kirubi then acquired land in Nairobi's choicest areas and erected commercial and residential structures there.

In 1998 Kirubi acquired 100 per cent of Haco Industries, the Kenyan subsidiary of a Dutch trading house, for an undisclosed sum. It became a leading indigenous manufacturer of consumer products, including TCB and Palmers.

In 2008 Haco formed a joint venture with Tiger Brands, one of South Africa's largest food manufacturers. Revenues of Haco Tiger Industries were in excess of $33 million (Sh2.475 billion) in 2010. It employs close to 700 people.

In 1998 Kirubi purchased Capital FM. Kirubi holds the largest individual stake in Centum Investments, a private equity firm listed both on the Nairobi and Uganda stock exchanges with a recent market capitalisation of $92 million. Centum holds substantial stakes in Coca-Cola, Safaricom and Kenya Commercial Bank. Kirubi is the largest individual shareholder in UAP Insurance, East Africa's third largest insurance company.

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