Key Facts: Kenya

by World Grain Staff
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Capital: Nairobi Population: 37,953,840; (July 2008 est.).

Religions: Protestant 45%, Roman Catholic 33%, Muslim 10%, indigenous beliefs 10%, other 2% (note: a large majority of Kenyans are Christian, but estimates for the percentage of the population that adheres to Islam or indigenous beliefs vary widely).

Location: Eastern Africa, bordering the Indian Ocean, between Somalia and Tanzania.

Government: Republic; chief of state and head of government: President Mwai Kibaki (since, Dec. 30, 2002).

Economy: The regional hub for trade and finance in East Africa, Kenya has been hampered by corruption and by reliance upon several primary goods whose prices have remained low. In 1997, the IMF suspended Kenya’s Enhanced Structural Adjustment Program due to the government’s failure to maintain reforms and curb corruption. A severe drought from 1999 to 2000 compounded Kenya’s problems, causing water and energy rationing and reducing agricultural output. As a result, GDP contracted by 0.2% in 2000. The IMF, which had resumed loans in 2000 to help Kenya through the drought, again halted lending in 2001 when the government failed to institute several anti-corruption measures. Despite the return of strong rains in 2001, weak commodity prices, endemic corruption, and low investment limited Kenya’s economic growth to 1.2%. Growth lagged at 1.1% in 2002 because of erratic rains, low investor confidence, meager donor support, and political infighting up to the elections. In the key December 2002 elections, Daniel Arap Moi’s 24-year-old reign ended and a new opposition government took on the formidable economic problems facing the nation. After some early progress in rooting out corruption and encouraging donor support, the Kibaki government was rocked by high-level graft scandals in 2005 and 2006. In 2006, the World Bank and IMF delayed loans pending action by the government on corruption. The international financial institutions and donors have since resumed lending, despite little action on the government’s part to deal with corruption. Election-related riots may have hurt Kenya’s 2008 performance. GDP grew an estimated 4.1%.

GDP per capita: $1,800 (2008 est.); Inflation: 25.5% (2008 est.); unemployment 40% (2001 est.).

Currency: Kenyan shilling (KES). 79.3 Kenyan shillings (KES) equals 1 U.S. dollar (Feb. 19, 2009 est.).

Exports: $4.729 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.): tea, horticultural products, coffee, petroleum products, fish, cement.

Imports: $9.485 billion f.o.b. (2008 est): machinery and transportation equipment, petroleum products, motor vehicles, iron and steel, resins and plastics.

Major crops/agricultural products: Coffee, tea, maize, wheat, sugarcane, fruit, vegetables; dairy products, beef, pork, poultry, eggs.

Agriculture: 23.8% of GDP and 75% of the labor force.

Internet: Code. .ke; 27,376 (2008) hosts and 3 million (2007) users.