Kenya has a positive investment climate that has made it attractive to international firms seeking a location for regional or pan-African operations. In the World Bank’s 2019 Doing Business report, Kenya moved up 19 places, ranking 61 of 190 economies reviewed. In the last three years, it has jumped 47 places on this index. Year-on-year, Kenya continues to improve its regulatory framework and its attractiveness as a destination for foreign direct investment. Corruption, however, remains endemic and Transparency International’s (TI) 2018 Global Corruption Perception Index ranked Kenya 144 out of 180 countries, one place lower than in 2017. Kenya has strong telecommunications infrastructure, a robust financial sector, and extensive aviation connections throughout Africa, Europe, and Asia. In 2018, Kenya Airways initiated direct flights to New York City in the United States. Mombasa Port is the gateway for the majority of East African trade and Kenya’s membership in the East African Community (EAC), as well as other regional trade blocs, provides growing access to larger regional markets.
In 2018, Kenya took steps to improve its business environment, including passage of the Tax Laws (amended) Bill (2018) and the Finance Act (2018), establishing new procedures and provisions relating to income taxes, value-added taxes, and excise duties. In 2017, Kenya instituted broad business reforms: simplifying registration procedures for small businesses; improving access to credit information; reducing the cost of construction permits; enhancing electricity reliability; easing the payment of taxes through the iTax platform; and establishing a single window system to speed movement of goods across borders.
Kenya’s macroeconomic fundamentals remain among the strongest in Africa, with five to six percent GDP growth over the past five years, six to eight percent inflation, improving infrastructure, and strong consumer demand from a growing middle class. A prolonged and acrimonious national election period during the second half of 2017 raised business anxiety and created a drag on growth but, following the elections, business and investment quickly recovered, and tourism was little affected by this turmoil. President Kenyatta has remained focused on his second term “Big Four” development agenda, seeking to provide universal healthcare coverage; establish national food security; build 500,000 affordable new homes; and increase employment by doubling the manufacturing sector’s share of the economy.
The World Bank’s annual Kenya Economic Update, released in April 2019, cited some short term economic risks to Kenya’s continued growth such as the interest rate cap inhibiting monetary policy and continuing drought conditions, but noted positive developments including the Government of Kenya (GOK) enhancing agricultural financing programs. At the same time, Kenya’s medium-term economic outlook appears strong especially in the agricultural sector. There has been great interest on the part of American companies to establish or expand their business presence and engagement in Kenya, especially following President Kenyatta’s August 2018 meeting with President Trump in Washington, D.C. Sectors offering the most opportunities for investors include: agro-processing, financial services, energy, extractives, transportation, infrastructure, retail, restaurants, technology, health care, and mobile banking.
|TI Corruption Perceptions Index||2018||144 of 180||http://www.transparency.org/research/cpi/overview|
|World Bank’s Doing Business Report “Ease of Doing Business”||2018||61 of 190||www.doingbusiness.org/rankings|
|Global Innovation Index||2018||78 of 126||https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/analysis-indicator|
|U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions)||2017||$405||http://www.bea.gov/international/factsheet/|
|World Bank GNI per capita||2017||$1,460||http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD|