Kenya

Thanks to significant infrastructure improvements, a profitable tourism sector and new measures to increase exports, Kenya is seeing strong growth.

Kenya is East Africa’s largest economy. Its government has made infrastructure improvements and these measures, along with sustained efforts to increase exports, will help accelerate growth.

Growth is projected to remain strong, with the World Bank predicting a jump in GDP to 7% in 2017 from 6% in 2015. The threat of terrorism is a factor that economists are weighing, but some citizens feel it’s surmountable.

Kenya has an enviable tourism sector, thanks to safaris in its many national parks and game reserves, but terrorism threats have slowed that, too, with revenues slumping.

Meanwhile, a major infrastructure project, known as the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport corridor, has begun and is expected to contribute an extra 3% to Kenya’s GDP by 2020.

FACTS FOR INVESTORS

  1. Nairobi, the capital, is the major financial centre of Kenya.
  2. In 2014, Kenya ranked 136th out of 189 countries on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index.  
  3. It is the world’s 106th-largest exporter out of 223 countries and the 86th-largest importer out of 222 countries.
  4. Kenya ranked 98th out of 146 countries on Forbes 2014 list of best countries for business.

BUSINESS ETIQUETTE

  1. A matter of formality. When exchanging business cards, be sure to give and receive them with both hands.
  2. Take a breather. When you start a business meeting, it’s important not to rush into the main items. Personal relationships are important in Kenya, so begin with some small talk. Canadians have fared well in East Africa because we do just that.
  3. Time out. Kenyans know that westerners tend to be punctual, so if you are not on time, they will see it as a sign of disrespect.
  4. Be patient. Things take time in Kenya and business is no exception. If government is involved, allow even more time.
  5. Mobile madness. On the whole, Kenyans are very reliant on their cellphones. Don’t be surprised if your hosts text or take calls during meetings.

TRAVEL TIPS

  1. Exercise caution. Although there is no nationwide travel advisory for the country, the government of Canada advises exercising “a high degree of caution.” Make sure you’re aware of advisories for certain areas. It’s best to avoid attracting undue attention, so don’t wear flashy clothes or jewelry.
  2. Temperate climate. Generally Kenya has a pleasant climate, with daytime temperatures averaging between 20 C and 28 C. The coast can be hotter and is also humid, though it is tempered by monsoon winds. June to October are the coolest months and November to May is the wet season.
  3. Easy in English. Most Kenyans in urban areas speak English well and will help tourists.
  4. Tip your servers. Tipping isn’t mandatory, but it’s a good idea to leave at least 10% in restaurants. Servers depend on gratuities to make ends meet.
Kenya

About the Author

Jennifer Campbell


Jennifer Campbell is a freelance writer based in Ottawa.

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