Kenyans view money to burn as sign of wealth

banking hall
Customers at a banking hall in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Kenyans consider having enough savings for the future, good health and being able to afford whatever one wants as the epitome of being wealthy, a new global survey on has shown.

The Financial Prosperity Barometer, whose findings are based on feedback from 10,500 adults in 18 countries, shows that 31 percent of the Kenyans polled view having enough savings for the future as a top sign of prosperity. This is followed by being able to afford what one wants in life (28 percent) followed by guaranteed good health for family and friends (28 percent).

The survey was conducted by PayU, the fintech and e-payments division of Prosus — the global investment arm of Naspers. It says that only 35 percent of Kenyans who participated think a well-paying job can help them accumulate adequate savings for the future and support their family and friends to lead a healthy life.

In Kenya, many in the working class pay health insurance premiums for providers like the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) as well as medical costs for their relatives, particularly parents and uninsured relatives. They are also more likely to contribute in fundraisers for friends and acquaintances.

According to the survey, for a Kenyan to be considered prosperous, one must be able to provide the best education for their children (46 percent), be healthy (45 percent), be wealthy (38 percent), have a loving family (37 percent) and a secure job (35 percent). The attributes were ranked in order of importance.


Asked about the current financial state of their households, 33 per cent said they were comfortable, 46 percent said they were coping while 24 percent said they were struggling. In contrast, 41 percent of their Nigerian counterparts said they were comfortable, 39 percent were coping and only 19 percent said they were struggling, an indication that Kenyans found the cost of living higher compared to their Nigerian counterparts.

The country was rated against Nigeria and South Africa among African economies. In South Africa, 32 percent of the respondents said they were comfortable, 44 percent were coping and 24 percent struggling.

About 92 percent of Kenyans said they believe that increased access to financial services can help people plan for their future prosperity, with 77 percent of them saying the more they access financial services, the higher their chances of being prosperous.

On this score, Kenyans outperformed Nigerians (72 percent) and South Africans (63 percent) in believing that access to financial services would make them more prosperous.

More than a third of the participants in the survey were drawn from high-growth European countries with only three sub-African countries including based on the size of their economies.

“For countries that had minimal financial infrastructure just years ago, the rate of change is astonishing and demonstrates the uptake of alternative financial service providers in high-growth markets such as Kenya,” the report states, alluding to the widespread reliance on mobile money loans and services to increase financial inclusion.

“Prosperity is driven by more than money, it’s defined by access to services, the health of the people who matter, and their access to stable jobs. Technology lies at the heart of building a truly prosperous continent and is already changing the way Africa banks, manages finances and engages with money,” says the poll released this week.

Interestingly, the emotional benefits of financial services “were easier to identify than the practical ones, with many giving security and peace of mind the highest value,” PayU Africa head of strategy and business development Corrie Bakker said in a statement to the Business Daily. PayU says the survey was aimed at establishing the “limitations of financial inclusion, the value of financial services, and the key characteristics that define prosperity”.

About 45 percent of South Africans cited health as a top indicator of prosperity, followed by education (44 percent), a well-paying job (41 percent), loving family 38 percent) and owning a house (37 percent).

Nigerians, however, cited being wealthy as the key driver of prosperity, followed by being healthy (48 percent), providing best education to the children (42 percent), a loving family (36 percent) and a well-paying job (31 percent).

“The striking insight is that in countries considered poorer by international standards, the values of health and happiness are emphasised over wealth and money,” PayU notes in the report.