The energy sector has overtaken financial services in the ranking of Kenya’s highest-paying jobs on the back of increased investments by foreigners.
Employees in the electricity and gas business took home an average of Sh182,346 a month last year, up from Sh173,103 in 2021, the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) data show.
This saw the average pay in this segment overtake financial services as the second-highest-paying sector last year.
Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) cemented their position as top payers with an average salary of Sh325,349 monthly ahead of energy and financial services, which offered Sh181,618 per month.
Foreign-backed NGOs have for years recorded high compensation arising from the fact that they are well-funded and rely heavily on highly skilled professionals.
International oil firms have also put their money into Kenya’s oil and gas sector, petroleum retail and renewable energy, in particular wind and solar power generation.
This has in part helped increase average wages in the sector by 5.3 percent compared to financial services, which comprises banks, insurance firms and investment companies, and NGOs at 4.6 percent and 3.9 percent respectively.
The three top-paying sectors trailed the private sector average pay increase of 5.6 percent last year.
Inflation wiped out the 5.6 percent salary increase offered to the private sector workers last year, making it the third year in a row when pay rises lagged behind the soaring cost of living.
The findings of an annual economic survey by the KNBS show average earnings for workers in the private sector recovered from 2021 when it grew 2.6 percent and 3.6 percent in 2020.
However, when adjusted for rising prices or inflation, wages fell by 2.7 percent in a year when the cost of living measure rose to levels witnessed more than five years ago, largely due to the war in Ukraine and drought.
The foreign-backed NGOs, energy and financial services sector accounted for a measly 104,100 employees or 3.4 percent of the 3.01 million formal sectors jobs.
Outside the State security and public school teachers, agriculture, manufacturing and wholesale and retail were the dominant employers.
Agriculture had 341,600 employees while manufacturing and wholesale and retail had 352,600 and 267,900 respectively.
But the dominant employers trailed other sectors on pay, reflecting the growing inequality in the formal sector.
Average pay in the agriculture sector was Sh33,231, manufacturing Sh51,470 and wholesale and retail Sh78,505.
The earnings inequality has partly been attributed to the previous centralised system of government, which guided sharing of resources since Independence.
The devolved system of government, which took off in 2013, raised hopes of addressing the economic imbalance, as analysts say there is a need to offer incentives to attract private investors to counties and spread the wealth.
Kenya’s economy grew 4.8 percent last year, down from 7.6 percent a year earlier, as a severe drought hurt agricultural output.
New formal sector jobs stood at 109,300, down from 163,500 recorded in 2021, a blow to the more than one million young people who graduate from colleges and secondary schools.
Workers in household activities, including nannies and domestic helpers in the formal sector, earned Sh26,165 per month.
Other low earners were in sectors such as water supply and waste management (Sh25,019) and real estate (Sh28,258).