More Kenyans join dollar millionaires league, report shows

Thursday March 03 2022
Andrew Shirley

Knight Frank’s Wealth Report Editor Andrew Shirley during the launch of the Wealth Report 2020 at a Nairobi hotel on March 4, 2020. PHOTO | FILE | NMG


The number of dollar millionaires in Kenya grew marginally to 3,362 last year, even as more than a quarter of them sought second citizenships, a new survey shows.

The 2022 Knight Frank Wealth Report said 39 more Kenyans joined the rank of the world’s High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs) with a net worth of more than Ksh113.89 million ($999,912) last year, representing a marginal 1.17 per cent rise, compared to 3,323 in 2020.

The study, however, revealed that two Kenyans last year dropped from the exclusive group of Ultra High Net-Worth Individuals, who are worth more than Ksh3.4 billion ($29.8 million), cutting their number to 88.

In an interesting twist, many rich Kenyans are eyeing a second nationality to boost their access to markets with favourable tax regimes, quality healthcare and better education.

“Among Kenyans seeking new passports, the proportion interested in reducing their tax bills, enhancing their safety or getting a better quality of life is much the same as for the wealthy globally,” Andrew Shirley, editor of The Wealth Report at Knight Frank, said.

He added: “The big difference for Kenya’s dollar millionaires is the proportion of new nationality applications for investment purposes, and in pursuit of better education and better healthcare for themselves and for their families.”


According to the survey, of the Kenyans seeking new passports, around 59 per cent are doing so for investment purposes, against a global average of 17 per cent, while 38 per cent cite education as a driver, compared to 18 per cent worldwide.

Dollar-millionaire Kenyans

Meanwhile, 34 per cent are seeking better healthcare, compared to 13 per cent worldwide.

This balance of motivations contrasts with the rest of Africa, where 63 per cent of the HNWIs applying for second nationalities are seeking safety and a better life.

Recent surveys by the Central Bank of Kenya have shown that a majority of company chief executives in Kenya believe the high cost of doing business and taxation posed the biggest threat to their operations. This could explain the intentions of the dollar-millionaire Kenyans to seek alternative markets for their businesses.

Kenyan millionaires hold an unusually high proportion of their assets in their own country, owning an average of just 19 per cent of their property portfolio overseas, compared with an average of 32 per cent across all HNWIs.

“Overall, the shift to nationality applications driven by the principle aim of investment and from an established platform of preference for property ties in with the interest by Kenya’s wealthy in owning properties overseas. Their long-standing preference for investing in property at home is now extending to real estate investments in the US, UK, Australia and the UAE,” said Mr Shirley.

The report stated that Kenyan HNWIs are far more likely to be residential and commercial landlords than average.

“This difference is most notable in commercial property investments, accounting for around 49 per cent of the wealth held by Kenya’s most wealthy individuals, but only around 27 per cent of the assets of the wealthy worldwide,” Knight Frank’s said in its report.

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