Kenya - Country Commercial Guide
Market Opportunities

Overview of best prospect sectors, major infrastructure projects, significant government procurement and business opportunities.

Last published date: 2021-09-13

The primary U.S. exports to Kenya are aircraft parts, plastics, machinery, and cereal/wheat. The most promising commercial opportunities in Kenya are in agriculture and agro-processing, aviation parts, design and construction services, education, energy storage and transmission, ICT hardware and software, healthcare equipment, and e-services.

U.S.-Kenya trade  negotiations, increased regional and continental integration, a growing digital economy, increased liquidity in its capital markets, and public sector opportunities that include major infrastructure projects, are all factors that create a sense of optimism for the Kenyan market.

Kenya serves as a springboard for international firms looking to enter the region and remains a commercial hub for the region. Linkages from Kenya to other parts of the continent will only be strengthened with increased integration of the East African Community (EAC) and the AfCFTA.

Kenya remains a regional leader in the digital economy, which according to a 2019 World Bank economic update, has grown an estimated 10.9% annually since 2016. Within the ICT sector, recently passed legislation directly impacting players in the sector include the Data Protection Act of 2019 and the Digital Service Tax. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, communications growth could slow in the second half of 2021, due to tax increases imposed in the 2021/22 fiscal year (July-June) budget, including an increase in excise duty on phone and internet services from 15% to 20%, which could deter consumers and dent profits. Resident firms are exempted from the aforementioned digital services tax of 1.5% introduced in January, which applies only to non‑resident firms.

In November 2019, the GOK enacted the Banking Amendment Act of 2019, which effectively repealed a section within the Banking Act that capped the maximum interest rate banks could charge on commercial loans and dampened activity within the financial sector. This repeal effectively allows financial institutions’ flexibility on pricing   lending and will result in an increase in liquidity, allowing  the private sector greater access to capital.

Government investments are a large part of GDP growth for Kenya, with most of these investments centering on transport infrastructure. The government has ongoing expansion projects in rail, port, and road networks in order to increase Kenya’s attractiveness as an investment destination and retain its position as the economic hub for the region.

Kenya is also seeking to expand opportunities in PPPs through an overhauled Public Private Partnership bill. The bill, currently in Parliament, seeks to streamline the regulatory framework for PPPs, enhance efficiency in the PPP process by reducing the number of oversight approvals and proposing timelines on key project processes and stages. If passed, the bill will replace the previous legislation, the Public Private Partnerships Act, No. 15 of 2013.

Additional information on opportunities are found in the following, “Leading Sector for U.S. Exports and Investment” sections.