LIST OF BIGGEST LANDOWNERS IN KENYA (LAIKIPIA COUNTY). This list only covered Laikipia land owners. There are many other huge land owners in other parts of the country, including the Delameres who own over 50,000 acres in Naivasha and Charles Njonjo’s Solio Ranch which is said to be over 100,000 acres.
Kibaki owns different pieces of land in Bahati, Laikipia and Rumuruti, which add up to more than 30,000 acres. Moi owns land in Bahati, Olenguruoni, Molo and Nakuru which add up to nearly 100,000 acres. And of course the Kenyattas’ own nearly 500,000 acres of prime land across the country.
It is well known that the family of Kenya’s First President, Jomo Kenyatta, father to the current President, owns large tracts of the most productive land particularly in Central Kenya and at the Coast. Forbes Magazine placed the total land owned by Kenyatta and his family at 500,000 acres of prime land spread across the country.
A survey 2014 found that 50% of Kenya’s wealth is in the hands of political families, with the ownership of land providing the core of this wealth.
The skewed ownership of land is dire in a country where only 17% of the land is arable, with the rest mostly arid and semi arid. The Kenya Land Alliance says that more than 65% of this productive land in Kenya is in the hands of only 20% of the population.
The chaotic nature of land records in Kenya obviously suits the political and business elite who would like to maintain secrecy over their ownership of the country’s land. In recent audit, The Lands Ministry discovered that 1.3 million files were lost, misplaced or misfiled.
Land is an emotive issue in Kenya. The fight for independence was based on the struggle to revert ownership of land from the colonialists back to the Africans. Vast arable land in the Rift Valley was designated as the White Highlands, reserved for European settlers while the indigenous communities were moved out.
The authority to allocate Crown Land was vested in the colonial Governor and he issued grants of leases for 999 years to the European settler community. It is the same allocation by direct grant that facilitated the irregular allocation of pubic land after Independence.
In 1963 a total of 7.5 million acres or half of the agricultural land in Kenya was in settler hands, with individual farmers like Lord Delamere reported to possess as much as 1 million acres. The Africanization of the White Highlands, areas previously reserved for European settlement, was carried out through the Million-Acre Scheme funded by the British government and the World Bank, to facilitate the orderly transfer of ownership of farms owned by settlers who wanted to leave after independence. The new African political class and home guards that had made fortunes by collaborating with the colonial government bought thousands of acres from the departing Europeans denying the majority of Kenyans the right to own land.
The President widely abused his powers as trustee of public land to become a large landowner himself. The illegal allocation of land by the first Kenyatta and Moi governments is well documented in a report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Illegal/Irregular Allocation of Public Land popularly known as the Ndungu Report.
Lawyer Paul Ndungu, who released the report in December 2004, reveals the extent to which land was targeted as a tool for political patronage particularly in 1990s. During this period when the international scrutiny was focused on economic and political reform, land acquired particular significance as a bargaining tool for the political class desperate to hang on to power amid the turbulence of multiparty politics. No land was spared during this spree of allocations of public land, which came to be known as “Land grabbing”. Even protected lands as forests, wetlands, road reserves and even cemeteries were dished out as political reward.
On the Coast, beach plots on the Indian Ocean coastline were issued in the 1970s and 80s to political and business elites from outside the region. The land grabbing by the elite has rendered millions of coastal people landless or squatters in their own land.
HERE IS A LIST OF BIGGEST LANDOWNERS IN KENYA (LAIKIPIA COUNTY)
Ol Ari Nyiro Ranch – 100,000 acres
73 year old Italian Baroness and socialite, Kuki Gallman, owns this ranch. It measures 100,000 acres making her one of the biggest landowners in Laikipia and Kenya.
Ol-Pejeta Ranch – 92,000
Located between Mt Kenya and the Aberdare Ranges, Ol-Pejeta has had several previous owners. It was originally part of the Maasai homeland but was acquired by Lord Delamere and his partner Marcus Wickham Byanton in the early 20th century.
Ol Jogi Ranch – 67,000 acres
Ol Jogi ranch is located 225km out of Nairobi, just north of Nanyuki. The entire ranch provides a Rhino Sanctuary and is surrounded by an innovative ring fencing system to offer protection against poaching. It also rears cattle and employs about 300 people.
Loisaba conservancy – 61,000
Formerly known as Colcheccio, Loisaba ranch was established in 1997. Colcheccio is an Italian word that loosely translates as “mind your own business”. According to the history of the ranch, Count Ancelotto’s Italian friends tried to dissuade him from buying the land, saying it was a waste of resources. The Count is reported to have told them “colcheccio.”
Segera Ranch – 50,000 acres
“Former CEO of PUMA. Founder of The Zeitz Foundation and The Long Run. Co-Founder of The B Team and Zeitz MOCAA. Owner of Segera. Warrior for the planet!”
Ole Malo Ranch – 50,000 acres
Ole Malo Ranch is owned by Colin Francombe. He was born and raised in Kenya. For 23 years, he was the manager of Kuki Gallman’s 100,000-acre Ol ari Nyiro ranch.
Mugie Ranch – 47,000
Mugie was established by the Hahn family who have been involved with Africa’s wildlife for over 40 years. For over three decades now, the ranch has been managed by Claus Mortensen who was born and brought up in Kenya.
Mpala Ranch – 49,000 acres
The Mpala Ranch incorporates the Mpala Research/Centre Foundation and Mpala Farm.
It lies beneath the shadow of Mt. Kenya, in the center of Laikipia County. It is home to nearly 7,000 elephants, the world’s 4th largest African wild dog population, and the globally endangered Grevy’s zebra.
Lewa Downs – 45,000 acres
You’ve probably heard of the Craig family. The Duke of Cambridge and future King of England Prince William in March this year jetted into the country to attend his ex-girlfriend Jecca Craig’s wedding.
Suyian Ranch – 43,000 acres
Suyian is the Maa name for the African Wild Dog. The ranch covers exactly 43, 495 acres in northwest Laikipia. Suyian is particularly known for its honey production, producing thousands of kgs per year. It also rears cattle, sheep and goats.
Mogwooni ranch – 40,000 acres
This private cattle ranch is known to have some of the best breeds of cattle and sheep. There is a small number of wildlife but most of the ranch is used to rear cattle. Mogwooni is owned and managed by Jackie Kenyon
Ole Naisho Ranch – 30,000 acres
The ranch, which is today called Ole Naisho – Maasai for honey – for a long time was called Kamwaki. It is owned by Kenyan-born Jeremy Block, group chairman Dormans coffee. Ole Naisho has more than 7,000 head of beef cattle. It also hosts a British Army training ground.
Chololo Ranch – 25,000 acres
Chololo Ranch is owned by Sammy Jessel, one of the sons of the elder, John Jessel. His brother, Martin Jessel, also owns a huge ranch in Laikipia. In total, the Jessel family owns four ranches, with Chololo being the largest.
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