Expats and NGO workers earn highest salaries

Employees of multilateral bodies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) remain the highest-paid workers in the formal sector, according to the Economic Survey 2016.

The average monthly pay for those employed at organisations like the World Bank, United Nations, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Oxfam stood at Sh240,258 last year, the survey shows.

This was up 7.4 per cent compared to Sh223,662 in 2014, with the sector being the only one with monthly average earnings topping the Sh200,000 mark over the past three years.

The organisations and their related agencies are well-funded, with contributions from governments, private companies and wealthy individuals.

NGOs have diverse objectives spanning reduction of poverty and inequality, protection of the environment and promoting democracy.


Organisations like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on the other hand are multilateral institutions tasked with promoting global co-operation in macroeconomic and financial sector policies.

Operating in many countries, the organisations employ highly qualified personnel from diverse backgrounds who are paid more when sent to work outside their home countries.

Kenya hosts a significant number of the organisations, with most of their expatriate staff residing in Nairobi.

The range of UN agencies in the country, for instance, includes United Nations Environment Programme (Unep) and United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) that are headquartered in Nairobi.

Workers in the financial services sector –in private firms— came second with an average monthly pay of Sh135,371 in the same period. This represented a 7.9 per cent increase from Sh125,357 in 2014.

Financial institutions continue to leverage technology to reduce the number of workers performing routine tasks such as clerical duties, leaving them with a leaner workforce whose compensation has risen in line with improved profitability.

Banks are the most profitable in the financial services industry with managers and top executives enjoying the highest pay running into hundreds of thousands monthly.

Others with large salaries include asset managers, analysts and investment advisers.

Workers in the electricity and gas sector were ranked third, drawing an average monthly wage of Sh116,634 last year. Employees of private firms such as Tsavo and Aggreko recorded one of the highest wage increment at 12.2 per cent from Sh103,937 in 2014.

Their peers in the same sector in public service – representing employees of state-controlled Kenya Power, Kenya Electricity Generating Company, Geothermal Development Corporation, and Kenya Electricity Transmission Company— saw their average monthly pay rise by a marginal 1.8 per cent to Sh107,093.

Domestic workers were the least paid last year at Sh16,956 per month, representing a 9.3 per cent rise compared to Sh15,501 in 2014.

Employers performing administrative work and other support functions came in fourth, taking average monthly wages of Sh113,604.

This represented a 10.2 per cent gain compared to Sh103,045 in 2014, with this class of employees recording one of the highest growth in remuneration.

The transport and warehousing sector was ranked fifth, paying its workers including drivers, pilots, clerks, and logistics managers an average monthly wage of Sh98,164.

This represents an 11.8 per cent increase over Sh87,779 paid in 2014.

The industry is dominated by players in the road transport sector moving either passengers or cargo within the country and across borders. Other players include airlines and Rift Valley Railways.

Workers in the agricultural sector –the backbone of the economy— were the second least-paid with average monthly wages of Sh21,190. Their compensation had jumped 10.2 per cent from Sh19,226 in 2014.