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Philip Ndegwa: Meet The First Kenyan To Bank A Billion

  • Phillip Ndegwa was the first Kenyan to bank a billion
  • The late former Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) governor passed away on 7th January 1996

The Ndegwas are associated with old money in Kenya and are ranked among the wealthiest families in the country. The family patriarch-Philip Ndegwa- fortune attracted the attention of Forbes magazine who called the now defunct Economic Review magazine in Nairobi to confirm if indeed he was the first Kenyan to bank a billion.

His vast wealth traversing almost all sectors of the Kenyan economy has been passed on to his children. 

Here is the story of the former Central Bank of Kenya governor, Philip Ndegwa as told by WoK.


Philip Ndegwa was the third governor of the Central Bank of Kenya after Leon Baranski and Duncan Ndegwa. He served from 1982 to 1988.

He was a proud product of Alliance High School and later on joined the prestigious Makerere University before proceeding to Harvard University. 

Civil Service 

The patriarch of one of Kenya’s wealthiest families joined the civil service in 1965 after being appointed an economic advisor. He would then serve as permanent secretary in various ministries including Agriculture, Finance and Economic Planning. 

First Chartered Securities 

The formation of First Chartered Securities alongside 20 other civil servants was what made Philip Ndegwa fortune. This was an indigenous investment outfit which is still a source of revenue for his family.

The outfit went on to buy 100% stake in ICEA which partnered with Lion of Kenya Insurance to form ICEA Lion Group. 

The savvy economist also bought 24.98% in NIC bank. In 2012, this stake was valued at Ksh5.22 billion. He also ventured into real estate through AMbank House and the prestigious Riverside Estate in Nairobi. By 1999, the property portfolio was worth $100 million through its insurance arm alone 

First Chartered Securities also has interests in logistics, agriculture, beverages and milling. It is said to control three tea estates and tea processing factories. Ndegwa’s family also owns majority shares in Unga Group through Victus Limited. 

Also Read: The Multi-Billion Businesses The Top Five Richest Men In Kenya Control

The Ndegwas once had interests in Inchcape Shipping, the largest dry shipping dock between Cairo and Cape Town. Catering firm Nairobi Airport Services (NAS) was also once among the many interests controlled by First Chartered Securities. 

Among Philip Ndegwa’s notable achievement was his role in the privatization of Kenya Airways. 

Mr. Ndegwa also served as chairman in a number of boards including: 

  • ICEA (Insurance Company of East Africa) 
  • Kenya Commercial bank (where he served as executive chairman) 
  • First Chartered Securities Limited 
  • Kenya Pipeline Company 
  • Kenya Revenue Authority 
  • Kenya Airways 
  • The Agricultural Finance Corporation 
  • The Society for International Development, Kenya Chapter

He also served as an International Economic Expert at the United Nations and worked with UNEP as an assistant director. 

As an economist, his notable works include: Africa’s Development Crisis and Related International Issues, and Africa to 2000 and Beyond: Imperative Political and Economic Agenda. 


The former CBK governor passed away on 7th January 1996. He was eulogized by both the late president Daniel arap Moi and then finance minister Musalia Mudavadi for his service to country.

In 2000, the UN released a tribute dedicated to the Ndegwa titled: Renewing Social and Economic Progress in Africa: Essays in Memory of Philip Ndegwa. The volume was a research of multiple authors.


Among the beneficiaries of his vast empire were his sons James and Andrew Ndegwa who split the NIC stake and were the largest shareholders. 

Andrew Ndegwa is the chairman of NIC bank and executive director of First Chartered Securities. The Oxford graduate has an MA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics. His 6.5% stake at NIC is said to be worth Sh1.1 billion. 

James Ndegwa, an insurer by profession, had a 6-year stint at Capital Markets Authority as the board chair. He was appointed in April 2015 and re-appointed on 28th March 2018. He holds a BA and an MA from Oxford University.

Stake In NCBA

NCBA came into existence in 2019 following the merge between NIC Bank Group and Commercial Bank of Africa making it the third largest lender in Kenya.

The Ndegwas stake in NCBA group is 8.4 percent while President Uhuru Kenyatta and Merali families hold 13.2 percent and 5.9 percent stake respectively.

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