Kenya is the largest and the most advanced economy in East and Central Africa; with strong growth prospects supported by an emerging, urban middle class and an increasing appetite for high-value goods and services making it a strong regional player. Kenya is open for business to well-positioned companies with strategic objectives of tapping into the growing potential of emerging markets in East and Central Africa.
Kenya has a youthful population, a dynamic private sector, highly skilled workforce and improved infrastructure. The completion of the first phase of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) along with various port expansions and the upgrading of road networks across the country emphasise the Government’s focus on improving transport infrastructure and the effort to facilitate the ease of doing business. In addition, the launching of the One Stop Border Posts (OSBPs) at various points along Kenya’s borders have eased trade across the East African Community (EAC) and have enhanced the country’s position as the gateway into East Africa.
In 2018, Kenya went up 19 places to 61 in the World Bank ease of doing business 2019 rankings. This was largely due to the increased access to credit, protection of minority investors and ease of paying taxes by merging all permits into a single unified business permit. The report also ranked Kenya as the seventh most improved country globally.
In terms of technology, 88% of Kenyans have access to the internet as per reports from the Communications of Authority (CAK). The country enjoys the fastest mobile internet connectivity in the world and is ranked 14th overall in the world. Thanks to the “National Broadband Strategy” launched in 2013, Kenya ranks above the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa with internet connection speeds averaging 12.2 Mbps.
Nairobi has been the cradle of technological innovation in Kenya and the center of the country’s thriving tech ecosystem, known as the “Silicon Savannah”. Kenya’s agile mobile banking system has created new market opportunities for digital entrepreneurs.
The country has the world’s highest mobile-money penetration rate with more than half of adults using a mobile money platform. In the first quarter of 2019 alone, $20 billion worth of money transactions passed through mobile money transfer services.
Kenya’s technology ecosystem is significantly developed and provides a solid avenue for business and indeed socioeconomic development.
In line with Vision 2030, the Government of Kenya launched the Special Economic Zones (SEZ) Act in 2015. The overarching objectives of the SEZs are the following: to increase foreign direct investment (FDI),increase manufacturing and exports volumes and increase employment opportunities in the country.
It is intended that all goods manufactured in, and specified services provided from an SEZ, will enjoy incentives and be exempt from most Kenyan taxes and duties.
So far, SEZs have been granted in the Uasin, Gishu and Kiambu counties and the Ministry of Industrialisation proposes setting up SEZs in Kisumu, Mombasa and Lamu; areas with fairly well developed transport infrastructure, youthful and educated populations and counties in need of industrialisation. Naivasha has also been proposed as a potential fourth zone owing to its proximity to geothermal power from Olkaria.
Kenya has seen a vibrant, entrepreneurial rise in its young population due to youth unemployment rising to 22.2%. Young entrepreneurs are now establishing small micro-enterprises, developing software in the tech industry and exploring talents in art and music as an alternative to formal employment.