Is This Uhuru's Favourite Billionaire Friend?

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday, January 28, was in Salgaa, Nakuru County, where he launched a new company owned by one of Kenya's wealthiest individuals.

This was not the first time President Uhuru Kenyatta would be with billionaire Narendra Raval's Devki, purposely to unveil any of his hugely successful projects. The Simba Cement factory launched by the head of state is expected to create 700 direct jobs.

A year before he launched the businessman's cement factory, he commissioned Guru’s Ksh28 billion clinker plant (a cement manufacturing plant) in Kajiado County in January 2018.

The clinker plant has a manufacturing capacity of 1.2 million metric tonnes per year,  with the financing coming from a string of local and international banks.

At the unveiling ceremony of the Cement plant, Raval, who is the chairman of the Devki Group, stated that the development of the new clinker plant was in support of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s efforts in creating quality jobs for Kenyans through the expansion of the manufacturing sector.

That would not be the last time Uhuru and Raval would cross paths in the social and entrepreneurial scene.

On March 9, 2018, President Uhuru Kenyatta handpicked Raval to replace Shem Oyoo Wandiga as the Egerton University chancellor.

Raval has had cordial relationships with the Kenyatta government as well as the previous Kibaki government, even though he has been clear about not mixing his business with politics.

He played a big role in ensuring that Kenya's third President Mwai Kibaki appointed Kalonzo Musyoka as his vice president after the disputed 2007 polls, as Kalonzo confirmed hin his 2016 memoir, Against All Odds.

Raval has been on record about never using his connections with top political icons to further his businesses.

“No doubt in politics we know all as good friends and well-wishers. But we never did or do any business with the government as a company policy. You cannot be a successful businessman if you are deepening your business on the political confection,” he told Daily Nation during an interview in May 2019.

Raval is one of the few self-made billionaires in the country who have evidence of having started from the bottom to climb to the heights they are at right now.

In 2015, he featured in Forbes Magazine, among Africa’s top 50 richest people, with his fortune estimated at Ksh40 billion then. 

Companies under his solely owned Devki Group conglomerate include Devki Steel Mills Limited, National Cement Company Limited Uganda, Maisha Mabati Mills Limited and Northwood Aviation Limited.