Home » The 10 Kenyan executives who took home the highest salary in 2020

The 10 Kenyan executives who took home the highest salary in 2020

by Omokolade Ajayi

Executives in top companies in Kenya received decent pay in 2020 despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the country’s economy and the underlying implications of the disruption on the income and revenue streams of households and companies.

Despite the unprecedented pandemic situation, these executives jointly received a total salary package of Ksh1.3 billion ($11.9 million) as compensation for their services to the companies they lead and their wealth of experience as trained professionals.

Just as companies rank in asset size and profitability, so do executives in terms of salary packages, which are primarily determined by the success of the companies they lead.

While some received fat checks in the millions of dollars in 2020, some went home with hundreds of thousands.

Regardless of the size of the salary packages which these accomplished individuals received, it is clear that they were remunerated handsomely for their efforts in piloting their businesses and sustaining their companies’ earnings over time.

Based on the figures derived from the latest annual reports and confirmations from the independent auditors of the companies featured in this piece, here are the 10 Kenyan executives who received the highest salaries in 2020.

#1 James Mwangi

Salary package: $2.5 million

Company: Equity Group Holdings Plc

Kenyan multimillionaire banking tycoon James Mwangi, the current group managing director and CEO of Equity Group Holdings Plc, earned the highest salary among the top executives in Kenya in 2020.

The largest individual shareholder in Equity Group Holdings, Mwangi received a total remuneration of Ksh278.5 million ($2.5 million) from the leading banking conglomerate in 2020.

His $2.5-million salary package includes a base salary of Ksh56.7 million ($516,403), a gratuity of Ksh194.6 million  ($1.8 million), and a leave allowance of Ksh13.9 million ($126,605).

#2 Peter Ndegwa

Salary package: $1.8 million

Company: Safaricom Plc

Peter Ndegwa, who became the first Kenyan to be appointed CEO of Safaricom in 2019, was rewarded handsomely for his service to the largest telecommunications company in Kenya, with the broadest network coverage.

The Kenyan executive received a salary package of Ksh201.5 million ($1.8 million) for his services to the telecom service provider, while growing its customer base by 12 percent at the end of 2020 to 39.9 million customers.

The salary package can be broken down into a base pay of Ksh102.3 million ($930,128), a bonus of Ksh90.0 million ($818,291), and a non-cash benefit of Ksh9.2 million ($84,000).

#3 Michael Joseph

Salary package: $1.3 million

Company: Safaricom Plc and Kenya Airways

Michael Joseph, the South-African-born Kenyan businessman who served as the interim CEO of Safaricom before stepping down on March 31, 2020, is a leading Kenyan executive. 

Joseph, the current chairman of Safaricom Plc, received a salary package of Ksh133.9 million ($1.2 million) from the telecom services provider in 2020.

His salary package includes a bonus of Ksh127.6 million ($1.2 million), which he received as an executive, and fees of Ksh6.3 million ($57,265), which he was paid as a non-executive director.

Aside from his $1.2-million remuneration from Safaricom, he was paid fees of Ksh9 million for his service to Kenya Airways as the company’s chairman.

This put his entire remuneration for 2020 at Ksh136.6 million ($1.3 million).

#4 Gideon Muriuki

Salary package:$1.1 million 

Company: Co-operative Bank of Kenya

Kenyan top executive Gideon Muriuki received a remuneration of Ksh117 million ($1.1 million) as compensation for his services at Co-operative Bank of Kenya in 2020.

Muriuki, who took the helm of the bank in 2001, contributed the bank from a loss position of Ksh2.3 billion ($20.9 million) in 2000 to a profit before tax of Ksh14.3 Billion ($130.0 million) in 2020.

His salary package of Ksh117.0 million ($1.1 million) from the Kenya-based bank includes an allowance of Ksh5.5 million ($50,000) and a base salary of Ksh111.5 million ($1 million).

#5 Joshua Oigara

Salary package: $1.1 million

Company: Kenya Commercial Bank Group

Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) Group CEO Joshua Oigara received a remuneration of Ksh116.2 million ($1.1 million) from the Kenya-based banking group at the end of 2020.

Oigara, who has been KCB’s CEO since 2012 when he was just 37 years old, has done an excellent job expanding the group’s asset base from KSh367.4 billion in 2012 to KSh898.6 billion at the end of 2020.

His services to the leading financial services group secured him a salary package of KSh116.2 million ($1.1 million), less than half of the KSh299.1 million ($2.7 million) that he received in 2019.

#6 Benson Wairegi

Salary package: $873,450

Company: Britam Holdings Plc

Benson Wairegi, who retired as the group managing director of Britam Holdings on Dec. 31, 2020, received a salary package of Ksh95.9 million ($873,450) in his final year as an executive of the investment holding.

The package is marginally lower than the Ksh98.6 million ($896,240) he received in 2019.

#7 Jeremy Awori

Salary package: $848,600

Company: Absa Bank Kenya Plc

Jeremy Awori, who has been the commercial bank’s managing director since 2012 when he replaced Adan Mohammed, earned a salary package of Ksh93.2 million ($848,600), including a base salary of Ksh35.34 million ($320,200) and a bonus of Ksh26.87 million ($228,400) from the Nairobi-based bank.

His salary package for the period is split into a fixed salary of Ksh65.74 million ($606,300) and a variable remuneration of Ksh27.44 million ($242,100).

#8 Kariuki Ngari

Salary package: $825,500

Company: Standard Chartered Bank Kenya 

Kariuki Ngari, the managing director and CEOof Standard Chartered Bank Kenya, received a Ksh90.6-million ($825,500) salary from the bank in 2020.

The leading banker was also recognized as the “Most Influential Leader in Consumer Banking and Finance in Kenya” by the Corporate Excellence Awards in 2021.

His salary package includes a base pay of Ksh45.4 million ($412,800) and a bonus of Ksh20.95 ($190,500).

#9 Bharat Thakrar

Salary package: $808,140

Company: WPP Scangroup

Bharat Thakrar, who founded WPP Scangroup in 1996, received a salary package of Ksh88.9 million ($808,140) from the leading marketing and communications group in 2020 as its CEO.

His salary package includes a base pay of Ksh72.0 million ($654,600) and a Ksh9.7-million ($88,200) allowance.

In March 2021, Thakrar resigned as a director and senior executive of the group over allegations of gross misconduct in his capacity as a senior executive.

#10 John Gachora

Salary package: $742,600

Company: NCBA Group

John Gachora, the group managing director of NCBA Group, received a salary package of KSh81.5 million ($742,600) from the financial services conglomerate in 2020.

His salary package includes a base pay of Ksh65.0 million ($591,000) and a retirement benefit of Ksh7.1 million ($64,500).

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