- Kenya has over 340 individuals with a net worth of USUS$10 million. The political elite form the bulk of these moneyed individuals
- With rich pockets, most millionaires have acquired helicopters to help them move around the country for leisure, business, and politicians – to popularise themselves
- With the political season, helicopter owners have also raked in millions hiring out their choppers
The 2022 Africa Wealth report by Henley & Partners and New World Wealth ranked Kenya as the fourth country in Africa with the highest number of dollar millionaires.
Kenya has over 340 individuals with a net worth of US$10 million (Sh 1.19 billion). The political elite form the bulk of these moneyed individuals.
With rich pockets, most millionaires have acquired helicopters to help them move around the country for leisure, business, and politicians – to popularise themselves.
With the political season in high gear, helicopter owners have also raked in millions leasing their choppers. According to data from the Aero Club of East Africa (ACEA), 47 new choppers were registered in Kenya in 2021, up from 26 in 2020. Out of the 47 registered, 41 belonged to politicians.
The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority notes that most helicopters flying on Kenyan air were purchased from South Africa, with Asia and Europe being other import options.
Cost of buying and hiring a chopper
In Kenya, the most popular brand is the French-made AS Aerospatiale 350B3e Eurocopter, whose average cost is US$1.9 million (Sh 225 million). If assembled locally, its price increases to over Sh 350 million. The cost of hiring a chopper depends on the number of hours flown. For instance, if flown for one hour, it consumes fuel worth Sh 30,000.
The cost of hiring ranges from US$1,500 (Sh 178,000) to US$2,000 (Sh 237,000) per hour. Regarding services such as parking, Wilson Airport charges Sh 10,000 per night, while landing fees cost Sh 1,000.
Kenyan politicians who own choppers
The outgoing president is one of the richest Kenyans. His family has invested in nearly all sectors of the economy.
Uhuru owns choppers registered as Eurocopter AS350B3e, 5Y JNM and 5Y NMJ. Flex Aviation manages the helicopters.
Deputy President William Ruto hopes to succeed Uhuru as the fifth president. He has often said he rose from a chicken seller to his current status.
Ruto runs a multi-billion empire that includes Weston Hotel, Amaco Insurance shares, and real estate and farming investments.
The United Democratic Alliance (UDA) leader owns five helicopters operated by Kwae Island Holdings. They are registered as Eurocopter AS350B3e, 5Y DSM, 5Y DSN, Eurocopter EC130B4 and 5Y DSC.
Ephraim Maina is the current Nyeri senator. Maina is eyeing the county’s gubernatorial seat on a Jubilee Party ticket. He will face off with incumbent Mutahi Kahiga, defending his seat under the UDA Party.
Maina is one of the richest senators in Kenya. The Standard reported that he is one of the politicians who own choppers. These include the 5Y–PSM and 5Y–MNW helicopters. Others are Bell 407 and Bell 206.
He also runs the multimillion Kirinyaga Construction Company that has secured huge government tenders.
Musalia Mudavadi is the Amani National Congress (ANC) leader. His party is a member of the Kenya Kwanza Alliance. If Ruto is elected, Mudavadi would be appointed as the chief minister in the Kenya Kwanza government.
The former vice president owns Eurocopter EC 130 B4 and 5Y TXM.
Raila Odinga is a seasoned Kenyan politician who has dominated the political scene for over four decades. Raila is the son of former vice president Jaramogi Oginga Odinga.
Besides politics, the ex-prime minister has investments in the energy sector through East Africa Spectre Limited and Spectre International. Raila owns Eurocopter EC 130 B4, 5Y-DSB and 5Y HOD.
Samuel Kamau Macharia
The Royal Media Services chairman is popularly referred to as SK Macharia in business circles. The soft-spoken billionaire has an estimated net worth of over Sh40 billion.
He owns helicopters registered as Eurocopter AS350B3, 5Y DSB and 5Y SGM. Macharia is an ardent supporter of Raila and has been campaigning for him across the country.
Gideon Moi is the senator of Baringo county. He also doubles up as the chairman of the independence outfit, Kenya African National Union (KANU).
According to the Kroll report, as reported by the Guardian, the lawmaker is worth over £550 million (Sh 79.4 billion).
Reports showed Gideon was the favourite son of Daniel Arap Moi, the late retired president who ruled Kenya from 1978 to 2002. Gideon owns Eurocopter As350B2, 5Y ZKL, Hughes 300 and 5Y ZKM.