ODM leader Raila Odinga is easily among the wealthiest individuals in Kenya and the region. The former premier is the founder of a multi-billion company, Spectre East Africa Limited.
According to reports, East Africa Spectre enjoys the monopoly of being the only private company in Kenya that supplies cooking gas cylinders to petroleum companies.
Speaking in Nairobi in June 2021, Odinga narrated how he founded the company with only Ksh12,000. The Former premier revealed that former Ugandan President Idi Amin Dada’s reign presented an opportunity for him to found the company.
He revealed that he was approached by a friend who knew a businessman selling manufacturing equipment at a throwaway price. The businessman had fled Uganda at the time and wanted to escape to the UK.
“When I was teaching at the University of Nairobi, an Indian came to me and said; ‘Raila there is an Indian who has been sent away from Uganda by Iddi Amin and he carried all his materials from his workshop in Jinja. They are in a yard at Parklands, and he is trying to sell them quickly.’
— Raila Odinga (@RailaOdinga) June 24, 2021
“He took me to Parklands and I looked at the machines. Welding machines, street metal cutting machines. He told me these machines can be useful and we are selling it at KSh 12,000,” Raila Odinga said.
The former Prime Minister further disclosed he was pleased by the idea but did not have the KSh 12,000 at hand but he had a car he had brought with him from Europe which he opted to sell.
“I did not have the money, my salary was Ksh2,000. I had an old left-hand drive OPEL car model which I had brought from Germany. I sold it to pay the Indian, and I got the machinery which I used to start my business,” Raila said.
He said he went to set up shop in a godown in Nairobi’s Industrial Area from where he started fabricating casements, windows, steel doors among other items.
According to Raila, his company ventured into manufacturing gas cylinders after a European proprietor from Agip Oil Company told him they had a shortage of cylinders.
With prior experience in Germany, Raila said he picked samples of liquefied gas cylinder samples from Agip Oil and fabricated them according to specifications needed by Agip oil.
According to Raila, the German visited and was impressed by what they were doing during one of his visits to his workshop and took him to Kenya Industrial Estate which was under the Industrial and Commercial Development Corporation (ICDC) then headed by Matu Wamae.
He then took out a loan from the then Kenya Industrial Estate to upgrade the business and the rest, as they say, is history. East Africa Specter is a multi-billion empire majorly known for the manufacture of liquified gas cylinders.
Opel is a German manufacturing brand that develops and distributes cars under the Opel name; you would recognise the sideways lightning bolt logo as soon as you see it. Opel builds vehicles that are also sold in other parts of the world under a variety of names. For example, its cars are sold under the Buick nameplate in North America and China, whereas it is called Holden in Australia.
Opel manufactured its first car in 1899 and went on to establish its base as one of the leading locomotives manufacturers in Germany and the world.