Kenya - Tips

Kenya Bureau of African Affairs
June 2007

Background Note: Kenya

A lioness and her cub rest in Kenya's
Masai Mara game reserve, July 2005.
[© AP Images]

Flag of Kenya is three equal horizontal bands of black (top), red, and green;
the red band is edged in white; a large warrior's shield covering crossed
spears is superimposed at the center.

PROFILE

OFFICIAL NAME:
Republic of Kenya

Geography
Area: 582,646 sq. km. (224,960 sq mi.); slightly smaller than Texas.
Cities: Capital--Nairobi (pop. 2.9 million; 2007 est.). Other cities--Mombasa
(828,500; 2006 est.), Kisumu (322,000; 1999), Nakuru (219,366; 1999), Eldoret
(193,830; 1999).
Terrain: Kenya rises from a low coastal plain on the Indian Ocean in a series
of mountain ridges and plateaus which stand above 3,000 meters (9,000 ft.) in
the center of the country. The Rift Valley bisects the country above Nairobi,
opening up to a broad arid plain in the north. Highlands cover the south
before descending to the shores of Lake Victoria in the west.
Climate: Tropical in south, west, and central regions; arid and semi-arid in
the north and the northeast.

People
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Kenyan(s).
Population (June 2007 est.): 36.9 million.
Major ethnic groups: Kikuyu 22%, Luyia 14%, Luo 14%, Kalenjin 11%, Kamba 11%,
Kisii 6%, Meru 5%.
Religions: Christian 80%, Muslim 10%, traditional African religions 9%, Hindu
/Sikh/Baha'i/Jewish 1%.
Languages: English (official), Swahili, over 40 other languages from the
Bantu, Nilotic, and Cushitic linguistic groups.
Education: First 8 years of primary school are provided free by the
government. Attendance--92% for primary grades. Adult literacy rate--85.1%.
Health: Infant mortality rate--57.4/1,000. Life expectancy--55.3 yrs (2007
est.).
Work force (1.95 million wage earners): public sector 30%; private sector
70%. Informal sector workers--6.4 million. Services--45%; industry and
commerce--35%; agriculture--20%.

Government
Type: Republic.
Independence: December 12, 1963.
Constitution: 1963.
Branches: Executive--president (chief of state, head of government, commander
in chief of armed forces). Legislative--unicameral National Assembly
(parliament). Judicial--Court of Appeal, High Court, various lower and
special courts, includes Kadhi (Sharia) courts.
Administrative subdivisions: 69 districts, joined to form 7 rural provinces.
Nairobi area has special provincial status. The government has gazetted 37
more districts, whose ratification was still in process as of February 2007.
Political parties: Over 100 registered political parties. The ruling party,
the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC), made up of 14 separately registered
parties, broke up in 2003, although it is still a registered party. A
Government of National Unity composed of Members of Parliament from all
political parties was created in 2005. KANU and Liberal Democratic Party
(LDP) united to reject a draft constitution in a national referendum in
November 2005 and later formed the Orange Democratic Movement-Kenya (ODM-K)
party in opposition to the government.
Suffrage: Universal at 18.

Economy
GDP (2006 est.): $22.79 billion.
Annual growth rate (2006): 6.1%.
Gross national income per capita (2006): $455.
Natural resources: Wildlife, land.
Agriculture: Products--tea, coffee, sugarcane, horticultural products, corn,
wheat, rice, sisal, pineapples, pyrethrum, dairy products, meat and meat
products, hides, skins. Arable land--5%.
Industry: Types--petroleum products, grain and sugar milling, cement, beer,
soft drinks, textiles, vehicle assembly, paper and light manufacturing.
Trade (2006): Exports--$3.1 billion: tea, coffee, horticultural products,
petroleum products, cement, pyrethrum, soda ash, sisal, hides and skins,
fluorspar. Major markets--Uganda, Tanzania, United Kingdom, Germany,
Netherlands, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Egypt, South Africa, United States.
Imports--$7.2 billion: machinery, vehicles, crude petroleum, iron and steel,
resins and plastic materials, refined petroleum products, pharmaceuticals,
paper and paper products, fertilizers, wheat. Major suppliers--U.K., Japan,
South Africa, Germany, United Arab Emirates, Italy, India, France, United
States, Saudi Arabia.

PEOPLE
Kenya has a very diverse population that includes three of Africa's major
sociolinguistic groups: Bantu (67%), Nilotic (30%), and Cushitic (3%).
Kenyans are deeply religious. About 80% of Kenyans are Christian, 10% Muslim,
and 10% follow traditional African religions or other faiths. Most city
residents retain links with their rural, extended families and leave the city
periodically to help work on the family farm. About 75% of the work force is
engaged in agriculture, mainly as subsistence farmers. The national motto of
Kenya is Harambee, meaning "pull together." In that spirit, volunteers in
hundreds of communities build schools, clinics, and other facilities each
year and collect funds to send students abroad. The six state universities
enroll about 45,000 students, representing some 25% of the Kenyan students
who qualify for admission. There are six private universities.

HISTORY
Fossils found in East Africa suggest that protohumans roamed the area more
than 20 million years ago. Recent finds near Kenya's Lake Turkana indicate
that hominids lived in the area 2.6 million years ago.

Cushitic-speaking people from what is now Sudan and Ethiopia moved into the
area that is now Kenya beginning around 2000 BC. Arab traders began
frequenting the Kenya coast around the first century AD. Kenya's proximity to
the Arabian Peninsula invited colonization, and Arab and Persian settlements
sprouted along the coast by the eighth century. During the first millennium
AD, Nilotic and Bantu peoples moved into the region, and the latter now
comprise two thirds of Kenya's population. The Swahili language, a Bantu
language with significant Arabic vocabulary, developed as a trade language
for the region.

Arab dominance on the coast was interrupted for about 150 years following the
arrival of the Portuguese in 1498. British exploration of East Africa in the
mid-1800s eventually led to the establishment of Britain's East African
Protectorate in 1895. The Protectorate promoted settlement of the fertile
central highlands by Europeans, dispossessing the Kikuyu and others of their
land. Some fertile and well watered parts of the Rift Valley inhabited by the
Maasai and the western highlands inhabited by the Kalenjin were also handed
over to European settlers. For other Kenyan communities, the British presence
was slight, especially in the arid northern half of the country. The settlers
were allowed a voice in government even before Kenya was officially made a
British colony in 1920, but Africans were prohibited from direct political
participation until 1944 when a few appointed (but not elected) African
representatives were permitted to sit in the legislature.

From 1952 to 1959, Kenya was under a state of emergency arising from the "Mau
Mau" insurgency against British colonial rule in general and its land
policies in particular. This rebellion took place almost exclusively in the
highlands of central Kenya among the Kikuyu people. Tens of thousands of
Kikuyu died in the fighting or in the detention camps and restricted
villages. British losses were about 650. During this period, African
participation in the political process increased rapidly.

The first direct elections for Africans to the Legislative Council took place
in 1957. Kenya became independent on December 12, 1963, and the next year
joined the Commonwealth. Jomo Kenyatta, an ethnic Kikuyu and head of the
Kenya African National Union (KANU), became Kenya's first President. The
minority party, Kenya African Democratic Union (KADU), representing a
coalition of small ethnic groups that had feared dominance by larger ones,
dissolved itself in 1964 and joined KANU.

A small but significant leftist opposition party, the Kenya People's Union
(KPU), was formed in 1966, led by Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, a former Vice
President and Luo elder. The KPU was banned shortly thereafter, however, and
its leader detained. KANU became Kenya's sole political party. At Kenyatta's
death in August 1978, Vice President Daniel arap Moi, a Kalenjin from Rift
Valley province, became interim President. By October of that year, Moi
became President formally after he was elected head of KANU and designated
its sole nominee for the presidential election.

In June 1982, the National Assembly amended the constitution, making Kenya
officially a one-party state. Two months later, young military officers in
league with some opposition elements attempted to overthrow the government in
a violent but ultimately unsuccessful coup. In response to street protests
and donor pressure, Parliament repealed the one-party section of the
constitution in December 1991. In 1992, independent Kenya's first multiparty
elections were held. Divisions in the opposition contributed to Moi's
retention of the presidency in 1992 and again in the 1997 election. Following
the 1997 election Kenya experienced its first coalition government as KANU
was forced to cobble together a majority by bringing into government a few
minor parties.

In October 2002, a coalition of opposition parties joined forces with a
faction which broke away from KANU to form the National Rainbow Coalition
(NARC). In December 2002, the NARC candidate, Mwai Kibaki, was elected the
country's third President. President Kibaki received 62% of the vote, and
NARC also won 59% of the parliamentary seats. Kibaki, a Kikuyu from Central
province, had served as a Member of Parliament since Kenya's independence in
1963. He served in senior posts in both the Kenyatta and Moi governments,
including Vice President and Finance Minister. In 2003, internal conflicts
disrupted the NARC government, culminating in its defeat in 2005 in a
referendum over the government's draft constitution. The new opposition
became the Orange Democratic Movement of Kenya (ODM-K)--an alliance of former
NARC members and KANU, among others. In early 2006, pro-government supporters
formed the NARC-Kenya party to rival the ODM-K. Kenya is scheduled to hold
presidential, parliamentary, and local government elections on December 29,
2007.

GOVERNMENT
The unicameral National Assembly consists of 210 members elected to a term of
5 years from single-member constituencies, plus 12 members nominated by
political parties on a proportional representation basis. The president
appoints the vice president and cabinet members from among those elected to
the assembly. The attorney general and the speaker are ex-officio members of
the National Assembly.

The judiciary is headed by a High Court, consisting of a Chief Justice and
High Court judges and judges of Kenya's Court of Appeal, all appointed by the
president.

Local administration is divided among 69 rural districts, each headed by a
commissioner appointed by the president. The government has proposed 37 more
districts, but these are not yet ratified by Parliament. The districts are
joined to form seven rural provinces. Nairobi has special provincial status.
The Ministry of State in charge of Provincial Administration and Internal
Security supervises the administration of districts and provinces.

Principal Government Officials
President--Mwai Kibaki
Vice President--Moody Awori
Minister of Foreign Affairs--Raphael Tuju
Ambassador to the United States--Peter Ogego
Ambassador to the United Nations--Zachary Muita-Muburi
Consulate General Los Angeles--Ms. Nyambura Kamau

Kenya maintains an embassy in the United States at 2249 R Street NW,
Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-387-6101, website: http://www.kenyaembassy.com
) and consulates in Los Angeles and New York.

POLITICAL CONDITIONS
Since independence, Kenya has maintained remarkable stability despite changes
in its political system and crises in neighboring countries. Particularly
since the re-emergence of multiparty democracy, Kenyans have enjoyed an
increased degree of freedom.

In December 2002, Kenyans held democratic and open elections, which were
judged free and fair by international observers. The 2002 elections marked an
important turning point in Kenya's democratic evolution as the presidency and
the parliamentary majority passed from the party that had ruled Kenya since
independence to a coalition of new political parties. The government lost a
referendum over its draft constitution in November 2005. This vote too was
widely accepted as free, fair and credible.

Under the presidency of Mwai Kibaki, the NARC coalition promised to focus its
efforts on generating economic growth, improving and expanding education,
combating corruption and rewriting the constitution. The first two goals were
largely met, but progress toward the second two goals has been limited.
President Kibaki's current cabinet consists of Members of Parliament from
allied parties and others recruited from opposition parties who joined the
cabinet without the approval of their party leaderships.

In early 2006, revelations from investigative reports of two major
government-linked corruption scandals rocked Kenya and led to resignations,
including three ministers (one of whom was later re-appointed). In March
2006, another major scandal was uncovered involving money laundering and tax
evasion in the Kenyan banking system. The government's March 2006 raid on the
Standard Group media house conducted by masked Kenyan police was
internationally condemned and was met with outrage by Kenya media and civil
society. The government did not provide a sufficient explanation. No one has
been held accountable.

ECONOMY
After independence, Kenya promoted rapid economic growth through public
investment, encouragement of smallholder agricultural production, and
incentives for private (often foreign) industrial investment. Gross domestic
product (GDP) grew at an annual average of 6.6% from 1963 to 1973.
Agricultural production grew by 4.7% annually during the same period,
stimulated by redistributing estates, diffusing new crop strains, and opening
new areas to cultivation. After experiencing moderately high growth rates
during the 1960s and 1970s, Kenya's economic performance during the last two
decades has been far below its potential. The economy grew by an annual
average of only 1.5% between 1997 and 2002, which was below the population
growth estimated at 2.5% per annum, leading to a decline in per capita
incomes. The decline in economic performance in the last two decades was
largely due to inappropriate agricultural policies, inadequate credit, and
poor international terms of trade contributing to the decline in agriculture.
Kenya's inward-looking policy of import substitution and rising oil prices
made Kenya's manufacturing sector uncompetitive. The government began a
massive intrusion in the private sector. Lack of export incentives, tight
import controls, and foreign exchange controls made the domestic environment
for investment even less attractive.

From 1991 to 1993, Kenya had its worst economic performance since
independence. Growth in GDP stagnated, and agricultural production shrank at
an annual rate of 3.9%. Inflation reached a record 100% in August 1993, and
the government's budget deficit was over 10% of GDP. As a result of these
combined problems, bilateral and multilateral donors suspended program aid to
Kenya in 1991. In the 1990s, the government implemented economic reform
measures to stabilize the economy and restore sustainable growth. In 1994,
nearly all administrative controls on producer and retail prices, imports,
foreign exchange and grain marketing were removed. The Government of Kenya
privatized a range of publicly owned companies, reduced the number of civil
servants, and introduced conservative fiscal and monetary policies. By the
mid-1990s, the government lifted price controls on petroleum products. In
1995, foreigners were allowed to invest in the Nairobi Stock Exchange (NSE).
In July 1997, the Government of Kenya refused to meet commitments made
earlier to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on governance reforms. As a
result, the IMF suspended lending for 3 years, and the World Bank also put a
$90-million structural adjustment credit on hold.

The Government of Kenya took some positive steps on reform, including the
establishment of the Kenyan Anti-Corruption Authority in 1999, and the
adoption of measures to improve the transparency of government procurements
and reduce the government payroll. In July 2000, the IMF signed a $150
million Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF), and the World Bank
followed suit shortly after with a $157 million Economic and Public Sector
Reform credit. The Anti-Corruption Authority was declared unconstitutional in
December 2000, and other parts of the reform effort faltered in 2001. The IMF
and World Bank again suspended their programs.

Net foreign direct investment (FDI) was negative from 2000-2003, but started
trickling back in 2004, as demonstrated by an increase in the number of
enterprises operating in Export Processing Zones (EPZs) from 66 to 74 between
2003 and 2004. The value of total investments increased from Ksh18.7 billion
(U.S. $247.3 million) in 2005 to Ksh20.1 billion (over U.S. $278.3 million)
in 2006. Following the end of the Multifiber Arrangement (MFA) textile
agreement in January 2005, several textile and apparel factories closed,
leaving 68 EPZ enterprises. In 2006, this number increased to 70 EPZ
enterprises.

The economy began to recover after 2002, registering 2.8% growth in 2003,
4.3% in 2004, 5.8% in 2005, and 6.1 % in 2006. Under the leadership of
President Kibaki, who took over on December 30, 2002, the Government of Kenya
began an ambitious economic reform program and resumed its cooperation with
the World Bank and the IMF. The National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) government
enacted the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act and Public Officers
Ethics Act in May 2003 aimed at fighting graft in public offices. There was
some movement to reduce corruption in 2003, but the government did not
sustain that momentum. Other reforms especially in the judiciary, public
procurement etc, led to the unlocking of donor aid and a renewed hope of
economic revival.

In November 2003, following the signing into law of key anti-corruption
legislation and other reforms by the new government, donors reengaged as the
IMF approved a three-year $250 million Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility
and donors committed $4.2 billion in support over 4 years. In December 2004,
the IMF approved Kenya's Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF)
arrangement equivalent to U.S. $252.8 million to support the government's
economic and governance reforms. However, the government's ability to
stimulate economic demand through fiscal and monetary policy remains fairly
limited while the pace at which the government is pursuing reforms in other
key areas remains slow. Although the Privatization Law was enacted in 2005,
modest steps have been made on privatizing of parastatals apart from Kenya
Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) and the concessioning of Kenya
Railways, while civil service reform is limited despite the government's
assertion that reforms would be undertaken. Accelerating growth to achieve
Kenya's potential and reduce the poverty that afflicts more than 56% of its
population will require continued de-regulation of business, improved
delivery of government services, addressing structural reforms, massive
investment in new infrastructure (especially roads), reduction of chronic
insecurity caused by crime, and improved economic governance generally.

The current expansion is fairly broad-based and is built on a stable
macro-environment fostered by government, and the resilience,
resourcefulness, and improved confidence of the private sector. Nairobi
continues to be the primary communication and financial hub of East Africa.
It enjoys the region's best transportation linkages, communications
infrastructure, and trained personnel, although these advantages are less
prominent than in past years. On January 31, 2007, the government signed a
$2.7 million contract with Tyco Telecommunications to perform an undersea
survey for the construction of a fiber-optic cable to Fujairah in the United
Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) called the East African Marine Systems (TEAMS). Two
other fiber-optic cables projects are being pursued to link Kenya to the rest
of East Africa and India. Once TEAMS and the domestic fiber-optic cables
planned by the government are completed, the economy is expected to benefit
significantly from reduced internet access prices and improved capacity. A
wide range of foreign firms maintain regional branches or representative
offices in the city. In March 1996, the Presidents of Kenya, Tanzania, and
Uganda re-established the East African Community (EAC). The EAC's objectives
include harmonizing tariffs and customs regimes, free movement of people, and
improving regional infrastructures. In March 2004, the three East African
countries signed a Customs Union Agreement paving the way for a common
market. The Customs Union and a Common External Tariff were established on
January 1, 2005, but the EAC countries are still working out exceptions to
the tariff. Rwanda and Burundi have since joined the community. In May 2007,
during a Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Summit, 13
heads of state endorsed a move to adopt a COMESA customs union and set
December 8, 2008 as the target date for its adoption.

Tourism is now Kenya's largest foreign exchange earning sector, followed by
flowers, tea and coffee. In 2006 tourism generated $803 million, up from $699
million the previous year. Africa is Kenya's largest export market, followed
by the European Union (EU). Kenya benefits significantly from the African
Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). Although Congress renewed the AGOA
third-country fabric provision in December 2006 to provide more time to
develop local cotton and fabric production that meets the buyers' rigorous
standards, its apparel industry is struggling to hold its ground against
Asian competition. Kenya's main exports to the U.S. are AGOA-program
garments, but it continues to run a trade deficit with the U.S.

Kenya faces profound environmental challenges brought on by high population
growth, deforestation, shifting climate patterns, and the overgrazing of
cattle in marginal areas in the north and west of the country. Significant
portions of the population will continue to require emergency food assistance
in the coming years.

FOREIGN RELATIONS
Despite internal tensions in Sudan and Ethiopia, Kenya has maintained good
relations with its northern neighbors. Recent relations with Uganda and
Tanzania have improved as the three countries work for mutual economic
benefit.

Kenya has hosted and played an active role in the negotiations to resolve the
civil war in Sudan and to reinstate a central government authority in
Somalia. The Sudan peace negotiations have made major progress, resulting in
the signing in Kenya of agreements between the Khartoum government and the
southern Sudan rebels to put an end to the two-decade-long war. On January 9,
2005 a Sudan North-South Comprehensive Peace Accord was signed in Nairobi.
Negotiations in the Somali National Reconciliation Conference resulted at the
end of 2004 in the establishing of Somali Transitional Federal Institutions
(Assembly, President, Prime Minister, and Government). Until early 2005,
Kenya served as a major host both for these institutions and for refugees
from Somalia as well as Sudan. Between May and June 2005, members of the
Somalia Transitional Federal Institutions relocated to Somalia.

Kenya maintains a moderate profile in Third World politics. Kenya's relations
with Western countries are generally friendly, although current political and
economic instabilities are sometimes blamed on Western pressures.

U.S.-KENYAN RELATIONS
The United States and Kenya have enjoyed cordial relations since Kenya's
independence. More than 5,000 U.S. citizens live in Kenya. In 2006 a record
86,528 Americans visited Kenya, up 17.6% from 2005. About two-thirds of the
resident Americans are missionaries and their families. U.S. business
investment is estimated to be more than $285 million, primarily in commerce,
light manufacturing, and the tourism industry.

U.S. assistance to Kenya promotes broad-based economic development as the
basis for continued progress in political, social, and related areas of
national life. U.S. aid strategy is designed to achieve four major
objectives--improving health care, including family planning and AIDS
prevention; increasing rural incomes by assisting small enterprises and
boosting agricultural productivity; promoting sustainable use of natural
resources; and strengthening democratic institutions. The Peace Corps has 150
volunteers in Kenya.

Principal U.S. Officials
Ambassador--Michael E. Ranneberger
Deputy Chief of Mission--Pamela Slutz
USAID Mission Director--Stephen Haykin
Public Affairs Officer--Robert C. Kerr

The U.S. Embassy in Kenya is located on UN Avenue, Nairobi, P.O. Box 606,
Village Market, Nairobi (tel. 254-20-363-6000; fax 254-20-363-6157).

TRAVEL AND BUSINESS INFORMATION
The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program advises Americans
traveling and residing abroad through Consular Information Sheets, Public
Announcements, and Travel Warnings. Consular Information Sheets exist for all
countries and include information on entry and exit requirements, currency
regulations, health conditions, safety and security, crime, political
disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. embassies and consulates abroad.
Public Announcements are issued to disseminate information quickly about
terrorist threats and other relatively short-term conditions overseas that
pose significant risks to the security of American travelers. Travel Warnings
are issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid travel
to a certain country because the situation is dangerous or unstable.

For the latest security information, Americans living and traveling abroad
should regularly monitor the Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet
web site at http://www.travel.state.gov, where the current Worldwide Caution,
Public Announcements, and Travel Warnings can be found. Consular Affairs
Publications, which contain information on obtaining passports and planning a
safe trip abroad, are also available at http://www.travel.state.gov. For
additional information on international travel, see http://www.usa.gov/
Citizen/Topics/Travel/International.shtml.

The Department of State encourages all U.S citizens who traveling or residing
abroad to register via the State Department's travel registration website or
at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. Registration will make your
presence and whereabouts known in case it is necessary to contact you in an
emergency and will enable you to receive up-to-date information on security
conditions.

Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be obtained
by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada or the regular
toll line 1-202-501-4444 for callers outside the U.S. and Canada.

The National Passport Information Center (NPIC) is the U.S. Department of
State's single, centralized public contact center for U.S. passport
information. Telephone: 1-877-4USA-PPT (1-877-487-2778). Customer service
representatives and operators for TDD/TTY are available Monday-Friday, 7:00
a.m. to 12:00 midnight, Eastern Time, excluding federal holidays.

Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at 877-FYI-TRIP
(877-394-8747) and a web site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel/index.htm give the
most recent health advisories, immunization recommendations or requirements,
and advice on food and drinking water safety for regions and countries. A
booklet entitled "Health Information for International Travel" (HHS
publication number CDC-95-8280) is available from the U.S. Government
Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402, tel. (202) 512-1800.

Further Electronic Information
Department of State Web Site. Available on the Internet at http://
www.state.gov, the Department of State web site provides timely, global
access to official U.S. foreign policy information, including Background
Notes and daily press briefings along with the directory of key officers of
Foreign Service posts and more. The Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC)
provides security information and regional news that impact U.S. companies
working abroad through its website http://www.osac.gov

Export.gov provides a portal to all export-related assistance and market
information offered by the federal government and provides trade leads, free
export counseling, help with the export process, and more.
STAT-USA/Internet, a service of the U.S. Department of Commerce, provides
authoritative economic, business, and international trade information from
the Federal government. The site includes current and historical
trade-related releases, international market research, trade opportunities,
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