GDP per capita more than doubles to Sh198,078


The number of persons living in poverty fell to 16.4 million in the year ended June 2016 from16.6 million persons 10 years earlier. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Kenya's annual average wealth per person or GDP per capita more than doubled over the past decade, helped by the slowest growth in population since independence.

An analysis of the projected gross domestic product (GDP) and the latest population estimates puts the wealth per capita at about Sh198,078, a growth of 137.52 percent over Sh83,393 in 2009.

This cements Kenya's position as a middle-income economy based on the World Bank bracket of nations with a GDP per capita of more than $1,045 (Sh107,635) but less than $12,746 (Sh1,312, 838)

Official data show Kenya population has increased 2.2 percent over the past decade while the economy has grown more than three times to Sh9.42 trillion from Sh3.14 trillion in 2009, lifting the GDP per capita.

Kenya's economy was upgraded to a lower-middle-income from a low-income economy following a rebasing exercise in September 2014.

Past surveys have, however, revealed Kenya to have some of the most unequal societies in the world, with the country's resources largely in the hands of a few rich people, a majority of them in the urban areas.

The Africa Wealth report for 2019 published in September said Kenya had about 356 billionaires last year, placing the country at number four in a ranking of top African cities based on the super-wealthy persons.

The report ranked South Africa top with 2,169 billionaires, Egypt (932) and Nigeria (531 ). These individuals have net assets above $10 million (Sh1 billion).

Nairobi accounted for 73 percent of Kenya's billionaires, reflecting the capital city's economic dominance over the other 46 devolved units created in 2013 to address the wealth imbalance.

The heavy concentration of billionaires in Nairobi indicates inequality in the country's economic development, which has partly been attributed to the previous centralised system of government which guided sharing of resources since independence.

The devolved system of government raised hopes of addressing the economic imbalance, but analysts say there is a need to offer incentives to attract private investors to counties.

The Kenya Integrated Household Budget Survey released by Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) in March 2018, for example, suggested that 36.1 per cent of the country's population of 45.4 million as at June 2016 lived in poverty, an improvement from 46.6 per cent in 2006.

The number of persons living in poverty fell to 16.4 million in the year ended June 2016 from16.6 million persons 10 years earlier.

This meant a measly 200,000 persons were lifted out of poverty in 10 years.

The KNBS defined households living in poverty as those earning below Sh3,252 a month in rural and peri-urban areas and Sh5,995 in major urban centres.