Rostam Aziz: The Tanzanian Billionaire Who Is Bringing Cheap Gas To Kenya

According to Forbes, Rostam Aziz became the richest person in Tanzania and the first dollar billionaire in the country in 2013. He has wide investment interests in mining, agriculture, real estate (Oman and Dubai) and telecommunications.

Here is Rostam Aziz profile-the billionaire set to bring affordable gas to Kenyan households, as told by WoK.

Background and Political Career 

The tycoon was born on 21st August, 1964 (57 years old) in Tanzania. Aziz is a father of four. He is said to have an Iranian descent and his paternal family invested in rice and sisal as early as the mid 19th century.

Aziz was elected as a member of parliament through the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) in 1994 and represented Igunga Constituency. Having amassed his wealth through a lucrative telecommunication deal when he acquired 10% of Tanzania’s Vodacom in 1999, Aziz became a powerful figure who funded the ruling party.

He played a critical role towards the election of former Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete in 2005.

As an MP, he left an indelible mark by championing health insurance for his constituents and went on to build dispensaries in every ward. However, he resigned from his position in 2011 over allegations of corruption. The serial businessman distanced himself from the harrowing claims and said he was going to focus on his business portfolio.

Telecommunication Investment 

Having acquired a tenth stake in Vodacom Tanzania, Aziz went on to triple his total shares within eight years. By 2014, he owned 35% of the biggest telco firm in Tanzania. He however sold off nearly half of his shares to Vodacom South Africa for USD 250 million.

Inception of Taifa Gas and fierce fight to invest in Kenya

Aziz owns Taifa Gas where he serves as a member of board of directors. The company was incepted as Mihan gas around 2016 and went on to advocate for clean fuel in Tanzania. By 2019, the company had built 35 plants and storage units both in inland Tanzania and Zanzibar in an investment worth USD 65 million

Aziz’s bid to venture into Kenya proved a steep slippery climb despite been given a greenlight by the then President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2017. In a conference held in Nairobi in 2021, Aziz did not mince his words as he breathed fire, revealing what had transpired. Dressed in a black suit, he firmly held the microphone with both hands as he spoke of numerous frustrations that had derailed his plan for over 3 years.

Tanzania and Kenya potentially can be much bigger than they are. Unfortunately, we’re bogged down with petty politics, protectionism, inward looking and trivial issues that impede economic development.”

It has taken me 3 years and I have still not gotten a response on the investment proposition. The 130 million dollars of investment that I was ready to make has been met with obstacle after obstacle,” he lamented.

Strengthening Kenya – Tanzania Bilateral Ties and Taifa Gas Entrance To Kenya 

The 57 year old’s heavily worded speech finally brought together both Kenya and Tanzania government officials to iron out various economic issues.

Late last month, Taifa Gas was given a go ahead to set up an LPG plant in Kenya’s Export Processing Zone (EPZ). The move is likely to see a drop in prices of cooking gas in Kenya given the increase in supply and the projected cheaper prices charged by Taifa Gas.

Taifa Gas site in Dongo Kundu near the port of Mombasa Photocredit/nationmediagroup

The East African reported that Taifa Gas was licensed to set up their plant and storage facilities in Dongo Kundu near the port of Mombasa.

Kenya’s aviation company, Jambojet which is a subsidiary of Kenya Airways also received the nod to venture into Tanzanian skies.