WEALTH

Kenyan adults each shoulder Sh57,608 in public debt – report

The high debt load has seen taxpayers contribute almost 30 per cent of the national budget

In Summary
  • This as Treasury data shows that Kenya is weighed down by debts estimated at over Sh7trillion.
  • Despite the high debt burden, the report shows Kenya as the richest country in the East African region.
Kenyans have embraced taking loans through digital-lending apps.
Kenyans have embraced taking loans through digital-lending apps.
Image: FREDRICK ONYANGO

Every adult Kenyan carries a public debt load of about Sh57,608($523), according to the latest Global Wealth Report by Swiss investment bank, Credit Suisse.

National Treasury data shows that Kenya's combined foreign and domestic debt currently stands at more than Sh7 trillion.

The high debt load has seen taxpayers contribute almost 30 per cent of the national budget translating to Sh2billion daily.

A Debt Sustainability Analysis report by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund shows that Kenya’s reliance on commercial financing has increased and its risk of debt distress stands at high up from moderate due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Exchange rate fluctuations can also be attributed to the increasing debt,” the  Credit Suisse report notes.

Kenya's dollar exchange rate for instance fluctuated by 3.1 per cent in 2020, the report shows, pushing up the amount of dollar denominated loans.

Despite the high debt burden, the report places Kenya as the richest country in  East Africa with total wealth estimated at Sh37.2trillion as of last year, accounting for 0.08 per cent of total world wealth.

This translates into wealth per adult of Sh1.3million. Kenya is followed by Rwanda whose wealth per adult stands at Sh461,000 Tanzania Sh401,500 and Uganda at Sh219,500.

In Africa, Kenya has the fourth highest concentration of wealthy persons after Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt.

The Covid-19 pandemic however saw the country's ultra-rich drop last year as it disrupted businesses and hammered most asset classes across Africa, according to a Knight Frank Wealth report.

The report noted the number of Kenyans with a net worth of at least $30 million(Sh3.3billion) dropped to 90 from 106 in 2019.

Kenya’s group of high-net-worth individuals, defined as those with at least $1 million (Sh109 million), on the other hand dropped by an even larger margin.

The report noted that that 912 Kenyans fell out of this club last year when their numbers stood at 3,323 compared to 4,235 in 2019.

The ongoing Covid-19 vaccination drive and eased restriction measures are expected to see a rebound in the country's wealthy individuals.

In Africa, the continent’s estimated wealth per adult stood at $7,922 last year, with debt per adult at $552 in the same period.

“Total wealth barely changed in Africa, with exchange rate appreciation accounting for the slight change in wealth in the continent,” says Credit Suisse.

Total global wealth grew by 7.4 percent last year to $418,342billion as wealth per adult rose by six percent to $79,952.

The countries most affected by the pandemic did not fare badly in terms of wealth creation in 2020 as they was largely immune to the challenges facing the world due to the actions taken by governments and central banks to mitigate the economic impact of Covid-19,” says the report.