Kenya - Country Information
Kenya is strategically located in the heart of East Africa, both geographically and politically. The country serves as the region's transportation, communications and financial hub, and is home to the regional headquarters of major international banks and companies. The city of Mombasa is one of the most important ports in the Indian Ocean seaboard while Nairobi, the capital, serves as East Africa’s diplomatic and business centre.
Multinational corporations (MNCs) such as General Electric, Google, Huawei, Microsoft, Nokia, Pfizer, Toyota and Visa, as well as international organisations such as World Bank and the United Nations have set up their African headquarters in Nairobi. Enterprise Singapore has also opened an overseas centre in Nairobi in 2018 to spearhead Singapore companies’ entry into fast-growing East Africa.
As the gateway to East Africa, Kenya is the main beneficiary of key investment projects and strong growth prospects in the region.
Nairobi is the transportation hub of Eastern and Central Africa, while the Port of Mombasa supplies the shipping needs of more than a dozen countries. Kenya is the region’s air hub, with over 100 international connections from Nairobi.
With the opening of the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), the first installment of a seven-country rail network, logistics efficiency in key areas has improved significantly. The SGR will create and bring more business to goods and services and other industries with different value chains.
Japan is also leading the Lamu Port and South Sudan, Ethiopia Transport (LAPPSET) corridor development that will create Kenya’s second logistic corridor. Infrastructure development will scale down the high cost of transports and logistics, which was one of the biggest setbacks of doing business in Kenya.
Strong ICT sector
The government has been making a major ICT push, branding Kenya as the 'Silicon Savannah'. With support from the World Bank through the Kenya Transparency and Communications Infrastructure Project, Kenya’s ICT sector has grown to become a major driver of economic growth. The sector has been steadily growing over the past decade and is projected to achieve a growth rate of 20% and contribute 8% to GDP by the end of 2017.
Developments in the sector have also made it easier to do business in Kenya. For example, customs paperwork has been replaced with an electronic interface system known as Simba. Customs checks are now conducted mainly via computerised scanning, with fewer physical checks undertaken, thereby improving efficiency and facilitating trade.
Venture to Kenya
Kenya is East Africa’s regional trade and finance hub and the undisputed gateway to the region. The country has one of Africa’s most developed financial services infrastructure, with many MNCs establishing their regional headquarters in Nairobi. The country is also well-connected to both the region and international hubs. Nairobi is the transportation hub of Eastern and Central Africa, while the Port of Mombasa supplies the shipping needs of more than a dozen countries.
Economic growth has recovered since the global downturn of 2008, reaching 5.8% in 20161 and is expected to range from 5-6% in the next few years. Kenya continues to boast healthy foreign currency reserves, sustainable levels of debt, exchange rate stability and controlled inflation even though pockets of instability could still exist due to terrorist activities. However, feedback from Kenyan-based MNCs revealed that there were no major disruptions to business except the need to implement heightened security measures and sensitising staff to be alert in public areas.
Singapore’s top 3 trading partners in East Africa are Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania – with Kenya being the largest. Some of the top traded products include mineral fuels, machinery and machinery parts, chemicals, coffee, tea and spices.
1: World Bank