With a burgeoning economy and spiraling growth, Kenya represents an opportunity for Gulf investors. The fourth largest economy in Africa, the country is ripe for investment. Last year, Kenya’s GDP grew by approximately 5.3 per cent to reach $60.94 billion. This year, it’s expected to grow even faster.
Foreign investment will be vital to sustaining consistent growth, however. According to, Commerce and Tourism Cabinet Secretary Phyllis Kandie, investment from the Gulf will be key, “[Gulf investors] will be very essential,” she said. “Obviously they have the financial capacity. Second, we have a history with the Middle East, [due to] our link with Oman and our history with her. Third, Kenya is only four hours away. Dubai is a transport hub and we’re also positioning Nairobi as a transport hub, so it’s very easy to use Nairobi or Kenya as a gateway to these other countries.” Gulf investors have already made moves in Kenya, with Saudi’s Kingdom Hotel Investments buying properties in 2005 and Qatar signing long-term agricultural land leases. Of particular interest is the tourism industry, which accounts for 12 per cent of Kenya’s GDP and the country’s agricultural possibilities.
As with many African states, a major issue is the quality of the infrastructure, and Kenya is moving to address the issue with a rapid expansion of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, which is set to treble in capacity when complete. In addition, rail link between Mombasa and Nairobi is being converted to standard gauge at the cost of $3.8 billion. These infrastructural initiatives were part of Moody’s recent upgrading of the country’s credit rating and according to Senior VP Kristin Lindow, “The energy and transport infrastructure expansion currently underway should drive robust growth and improve regional trade links.”
Kenya enjoys a reputation for being Africa’s start-up hotspot. With a strong tech industry, large international firms such as Google, Oracle and IBM are setting up centers for research and aiding in the education of Kenyan tech entrepreneurs. According to analysts there is an outside possibility that Kenya could become the base of the African tech industry. Since 2007 the telecommunications and technology sectors have accounted for over 40 per cent of Kenya’s foreign direct investment.