Prof Njuguna Ndung’u is the cabinet secretary in charge of the National Treasury and economic planning.
He replaced Mr. Ukur Yatani in 2022, who had served in the role under the Jubilee administration since 2019.
Ndung’u is perhaps one of the most experienced economists in the country -which is why President Ruto probably chose him as one of the key men in charge of implementing his so-called bottom-up economic model.
Older generations might recognize him as the man who served as CBK governor during the second half of former president Mwai Kibaki’s government, a period in which the country’s economy reportedly flourished to hitherto unprecedented levels.
The professor is also among the wealthiest men in Kenya, with his wealth just Ksh 50 million shy of hitting a billion.
He calls himself ‘the boy from Kandara’. This is his journey as told by WoK:
Background and Education
Professor Njuguna Ndung’u hails from the Kandara constituency in Murang’a County.
His education journey began at Kiguoya Primary School, where he sat for his final exams in 1973.
Subsequently, he embarked on the next chapter of his life at Kiambugi Secondary School in Gatugi, achieving a first-class division that opened the doors to Kagumo High School, which he fondly refers to as ‘the school of his dreams’ in 1978.
In 1979, he completed his Form Six and proceeded to the University of Nairobi – then the only university in Kenya.
There, he pursued a Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in economics. He was supposed to graduate in 1983, but his group was delayed by the 1982 coup.
After graduating, he applied to pursue a master’s in economics, which he completed in 1986.
From there, Ndung’u was admitted to the UON as a tutorial fellow on the condition that he would pursue a Ph.D. at the university.
He pursued the PhD for two years from 1987 to 1989 when he got another scholarship to further his studies at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.
Naturally, Ndung’u jumped at the opportunity to study abroad.
He completed the Ph.D. within four years and three months and returned to Kenya towards the end of 1993 to work as a lecturer at UON.
In 1997, he was promoted to senior lecturer and became one of the youngest associate professors in Kenya in 2001.
“That was the end of my journey in academia,” he told the senate commission that was vetting him for the cabinet secretary role.
After that, he dabbled in international assignments and was employed in 2002 by the International Development Research Centre of Canada as the program specialist in charge of East and Southern Africa.
In 2003, he joined the African Economic Research Consortium, a network that builds capacity for economists in Africa. There, he became the director of graduate training.
Professor Ndungu’s journey took a monumental turn in 2007 when he was appointed as the Central Bank of Kenya governor.
As CBK governor, he was instrumental in pushing for the success of Mpesa as an innovative financial product in Kenya.
He went on to serve in the docket for an impressive eight years, becoming the first governor to hold the position for such an extended period since its establishment in 1982.
Following his retirement from the CBK, he sought a brief sabbatical at Oxford University to engage in discussions about public policy-making.
In 2019, he was headhunted to lead the African Economic Research Consortium, a role he held until he was appointed cabinet secretary in 2022.
Most of Ndungu’s career has revolved around money, and he has naturally made a fortune.
As CBK governor, he earned a monthly salary of at least sh 2 million alongside other hefty perks.
In the interview with the senate committee, he stated his net worth as sh 950 million, composed of financial investments in various places.
In his current role as a cabinet secretary, he earns a gross monthly salary of about 990,000 and is entitled to a state car of at least 3000 cc, medical cover of over sh 10 million for himself and his family, among other hefty benefits.
A devout family man, prof Njuguna Ndung’u is married to Nancy Ndung’u. The couple have been blessed with at least three children.