How wealthy is Raila?

The sudden ostentatious display of wealth by Raila Odinga has left many baffled. Unbeknown to the public, Raila is a fabulously wealthy man with a personal fortune estimated to be in excess of Kshs. 4 billion. Read how the man who wants to be Kenya’s next president acquired his wealth which includes investments in the lucrative petroleum industry and in manufacturing.

How Raila acquired his billions

Raila Odinga’s big break came in 2001 soon after he led his party, NDP, into a merger with Kanu, the then ruling party. As Energy Minister in Moi’s government he was introduced to the family of Sheikh Abdukeder AlBakari, one of the richest families in Saudi Arabia with interests in petroleum drilling, petroleum exploration and export in the Middle East, Asia, USA and Africa.

Through the Saudi contacts, Raila was initiated into the lucrative world of oil business and soon enough he had joined the league of gig independent oil importers via his firm Pan African Petroleum Limited.

Industry sources say that one of the things that helped Raila make a quick buck in the oil business was a concessionary petroleum deal he struck with the Al Bakri Group where he was not only incorporated as a silent partner in the local arm of Al Bakri International but was also supplied with petroleum products from Saudi Arabia at subsidized prices which his firm would sell in the market at normal prices. That way, Raila was able to deftly beat the competition in oil business by occasional price undercutting.

While still Energy Minister, Raila re-established and nurtured his links with the Libyan government of Colonel Muammar Gadaffi where again he not only did good business in oil importation but also got substantial material support during the 2002 general elections.

Besides supporting Raila’s political causes, the Libyans also played a key role in stabilizing Raila in the oil business in a couple of ways. Industry sources say that between 2001 and 2002 when Raila served as Energy Minister, he received at least three consignments of petroleum products at very low prices which were later sold locally at market prices.

The overall turnover from the three Libyan consignments is reliably said to have been in the region of over half a billion shillings, a tidy sum of money in any language, enough to ensure that one crosses the Rubicon once and for all.

Raila’s enviable international links

Reliable sources say that Libyans bankrolled the Narc campaign with some US$ 3 million (about Kshs 210 million), thanks to Raila’s good contacts in the oil-rich land of Gadaffi. There is no doubt that if Raila becomes the ODM presidential candidate he can count on massive financial support from the Libyans once more.

Besides Libya, Raila enjoys good links with the South African government of Thabo Mbeki while in Nigeria he is known to have strong links with Olosegun Obasanjo, who was a close friend of Raila’s late father Jaramogi.

That Libyans, South Africans and Nigerians had enough confidence in Raila to channel campaign funds through him although he himself was not a presidential in 2002 is an indication of how highly regarded he is in some international circles.

Evidently, he could certainly count on even more enthusiastic support from his international contacts should he become the ODM presidential candidate.

For Raila, the linkage between politics and business went much deeper than petroleum business. It is significant that the Odinga family business, Spectre International Ltd, acquired the then state-owned Kisumu Molasses Plant soon after Raila started politically cooperating with Moi.

Raila has consistently argued that the acquisition of the molasses plant was a pure business deal “which had nothing to do with politics”, but his critics point out at the coincidence between the time his family acquired the parastatal and Raila’s shift of political alliance. It is highly unlikely –indeed one may even say impossible-that the Moi government would have sanctioned the Kisumu Molasses Plant deal at the time if Raila had not become an ally of Moi’s.

Former commissioner of Lands Sammy Mwaita offered to sell the 240 acres on which the Kisumu Molasses Plant is built to Spectre International on January 11, 2001 at a price of Kshs 3.6 million at a time when Odinga started working closely with Moi. By June of the same year, Raila was appointed to the cabinet and made Energy Minister.

Significantly, Spectre International had applied for the same land in a letter of February 18, 1999 but the request had been rejected by the government at the time.

Titles were prepared in favour of Spectre International on February 3, 2002 for a 99-year lease backdated to September 1, 2001 and the Odinga family was ready to laugh all the way to the bank.

When the Odinga family started the process that led to the acquisition of the Kisumu Molasses Plant in 2001, Raila had already established good business contacts in South Africa. Energem Resources Incorporated, an international firm quoted at the Toronto Stock Exchange, had been looking for an investment opportunity in Kenya for a long time and the Kisumu Molasses Plant appeared just right.

Soon after taking over the plant from the government, Raila struck a lucrative deal with Energem whereby the Canadian firm bought 55 per cent of the Kisumu Molasses plant. Sources say that the Odinga family was paid over US$ 5 million (about Kshs 420 million) to relinquish the control of the molasses plant. The Odinga family had paid only Kshs 3.6 million for the property.

The Canadians also ploughed in millions of dollars to rehabilitate the plant and it is today one of the largest manufacturing concerns in the country employing hundreds of people and producing at least 60,000 litres of industrial ethanol for local consumption and export.

Ethanol from the Kisumu Molasses Plant is used as a fuel additive in east and Central Africa. Among other products coming out of the plant include yeast, carbon dioxide alcohol and related industrial products.

A valuation of the plant carried out three three years ago placed the Kisumu Molasses Plant at US$100 million (Kshs 7 billion). With the Odinga family owning 40 percent of the plant, putting the family’s stake in the plant in the region of Kshs 7.8 billion. The remaining five per cent shares in the plant are owned by a development trust on behalf of the local community.

Besides Kenya where Energem is in partnership with Raila in the Kisumu molasses plant business, now renamed Kisumu ethanol Plant, other African countries where Energem’s presence is significant include Sierra Leone, Sao Tome, Congo Brazaville, Angola. Zimbabwe, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Chad and Central Africa republic.

Raila’s wealth at a glance


Estimated Worth

Spectre International Limited (the holding company for Kisumu Ethanol Plant)

Kshs 7 billion of which Odinga family owns 40 per cent whose value is approximately Kshs 2.8 billion

East African Spectre (the gas cylinder manufacturing plant founded by Raila’s late father)

Kshs 500 million

Raila’s family home in Karen Nairobi

Kshs 50 million

Runda House

Kshs 15 million

Pan African Petroleum Company (the firm through which the Odinga family imports and distributes petroleum products)

Has had a turnover in excess of Kshs 500 million

Scheming that changed Raila’s fortunes

By the time Jaramogi Oginga Odinga died in January 1994, the Odinga family could have been described as just another average middle class family struggling to make ends meet on meager resources.

East Africa Spectre Limited, the family business flagship, was teetering on the verge of a precipice, thanks to political interference leading to bad business and crippling debts.

Raila Odinga’s house in Runda estate was a typical middle class house neighbouring that of self-exiled publisher Pius Nyamora.

But all that suddenly changed in 2001 when Raila shifted political alliances, ditched the opposition and teamed up with President Moi’s Kanu to form what was then known as Kanu-NDP merger.

Soon thereafter, he was appointed Minister of energy and turned a new leaf in his life. With his friend Mark Too, then one of the most powerful personalities around Moi’s state house, holding his hand, Raila was quickly introduced to the world of big business from which he has never looked back.

Indeed, looking back at the kind of fortune Raila managed to accumulate as well as the business links he established during the one year or so he was Energy minister, one comes to the inescapable conclusion that contrary to the conventional wisdom prevailing then, Raila’s rapprochement with Moi was a pure business decision. The man may have made calculated moves knowing only too well that without good money even the best politician might not go very far in achieving his or her dreams.

It is thus not surprising – nor is it by accident – that as Raila prepares himself to make his most serious bid for the presidency, he stands out as one of the richest politicians in the country with a personal fortune estimated to be over Kshs 4 billion besides reported investments in real estate in South Africa and Dubai.

Raila, a calculating schemer, could not have failed to notice the most common denominator between all the three politicians who rose to the presidency; money.

Jomo Kenyatta may not have had tones of money when he became president because he had the benefit of being associated with independence and nationalism. However, when he became president, he moved quickly to amass wealth which he used effectively to sustain himself in power.

His successor, Daniel arap Moi was already a very wealthy man-though discreetly so-when he became president in 1978. And throughout his presidency, Moi used money as his primary tool of political control.

When Kenneth Matiba challenged Moi in 1992 and came second in the presidential elections, it was clear that part of Matiba’s most formidable arsenal was an apparently inexhaustible war chest. Without the kind of money he had at his disposal, there is no doubt Matiba would not have come that close to kicking Moi out of state house.

Another serious challenger to Moi was Mwai Kibaki who came second in the 1997 presidential race. Again Kibaki, like Matiba before him, was not only wealthy in his own right but had a retinue of rich supporters around him who ensured that his campaign machinery was financially well oiled.

It is against this kind of a back ground that Raila must have made the conscious decision in 2001 to drop all pretensions, embrace Moi and make as much hay as he could while the sun shone for he knew well that money is a politician’s best friend, especially one who aspires for the presidency.

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2 Responses to How wealthy is Raila?

Anonymous said...

What a rich son of a socialist!

Anonymous said...

Mindless porojo devoid of sources or verifiable facts written by a die hard Kibakinista.