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Country Reports

Kenya Country Report

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Risk Level

Low
Moderate
Elevated
High
Very High
Severe
Extreme

Overview

Executive Summary

Although the ruling Jubilee party controls 49% of parliamentary seats, it faces a leadership contest in the lead-up to the 2022 general election, which will probably split the party before mid-2021. President Uhuru Kenyatta is serving his final term and has allied with the main opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM). Constitutional change that would introduce a prime ministerial position is likely to be legislated in 2020 despite opposition from Deputy President William Ruto, a 2022 presidential aspirant. Ruto will likely attempt to seize control of Jubilee; if he fails, he will seek to win the support of ruling-party affiliates loyal to him and of smaller opposition parties.The president's rivals will probably oppose budget rationalisation and tax increases aimed to reduce the overall budget deficit to its target of 6.2% of GDP in fiscal year (FY) 2019/20, from 7.6% of GDP in FY 2018/19. COVID-19-related disruption to key sectors like cargo transportation, tea and cut flower exports and tourism and economic stimuli such as timely VAT refunds, payment of existing arrears to contractors and tax holidays will compound revenue shortfalls and disrupt development projects and social spending. Islamist militant group Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen (Al-Shabaab) has the intent and occasional capability to target assets and personnel in Kenya's major cities associated with foreign political and security activities in Somalia. Hotels and shopping malls frequented by Westerners as well as hardened military targets fall within Al-Shabaab's target set. Improvised explosive device and small-arms attacks will probably occur less than once a year in Nairobi. Al-Shabaab conducts much more frequent small-arms ambushes, kidnappings and roadside-IED attacks in counties bordering Somalia, including Mandera, Garissa, Wajir, and Lamu.Effective from 25 March, international passenger flights to or from Kenya are banned indefinitely. Cargo at Kenya’s land borders with Uganda and Tanzania is likely to be delayed for up to two days due to COVID-19-related checks.
Last update: March 26, 2020

Operational Outlook

Anti-corruption investigations led by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations are likely throughout 2019. Most of the directorate's investigations will probably serve to attack the deputy president's and his allies' revenue streams, affecting hydroelectric dam and road construction projects in the Rift Valley. The USD284-million Arror Dam and USD210-million Kimwarer Dam projects have been reduced in scale and cancelled respectively after the finance minister was charged with corruption regarding their tendering processes (which he denies). Enhancements to procurement regulations and quarterly meetings with contractors to monitor procurement irregularities will gradually curtail opportunities for bribery.

Last update: March 4, 2020

Terrorism

High

Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab has the intent and occasional capability to attack government and foreign assets and personnel in major cities that have political or military ties to Somalia, conducting a suicide improvised explosive device and small-arms assault on a hotel and office complex containing organisations supporting peace in Somalia in January 2019. Al-Shabaab attacks are most frequent in the northeastern Mandera county, and Wajir and Garissa along the Somalian border, involving small-arms and IEDs primarily targeting police and military patrols. Following the January 2020 attack on a joint US-Kenyan military airfield in Lamu, Al-Shabaab has demonstrated its capabilities in southeast Kenya, where military and telecommunications assets are likely targets.

Last update: July 2, 2020

Crime

The increasing dominance of mobile money poses significant risks of counterfeiting and fraud to the retail banking, insurance, and pensions sectors. However, the government has developed some of the most effective legislation in sub-Saharan Africa to regulate these transactions. Organised crime is increasingly likely to target the pharmaceutical sector, with criminal groups attempting to acquire precursor materials for producing methamphetamine. Kenya's marine ports in Mombasa and Lamu act as transit points for heroin and cocaine trafficking, exposing aviation, customs, and port authorities to corruption and compliance risks. Robbery is commonplace in major cities, particularly of individuals that have recently used ATMs.

Last update: July 2, 2020

War Risks

Kenya and Somalia are engaged in arbitration through the International Court of Justice to adjudicate the delimitation of their disputed maritime boundary. Military retaliation in the event of an unfavourable decision is highly unlikely. Separately, Ethiopia has since May 2018 engaged in mediation with the anti-government Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), indicating that OLF border incursions into Kenya will probably be more limited during 2020. Kenya and Uganda signed a memorandum of understanding regarding possession of the Migingo and Ugingo islands in 2019, indicating a low risk of small-arms skirmishes between local residents and police forces in 2020.

Last update: July 2, 2020

Social Stability

High

An agreement in March 2018 reached between President Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga removed the main trigger for renewed opposition protests. However, both Odinga and Kenyatta support changing Kenya's constitution to create a prime ministerial post, which is likely to cause those opposing such a change to protest. Rallies supporting constitutional change are likely in the counties around Lake Nyanza and in Nairobi's informal settlements. Demonstrations against constitutional change would be most likely in Baringo, Bomet, Elgeyo-Marakwet, Kericho, Nandi, Uasin Gishu, and Trans-Nzoia counties. Protests in Nairobi against poor public-service provision are likely to turn violent in 2020, with police using lethal force against protesters.

Last update: July 2, 2020

Health Risk

Severe

Vaccinations required to enter the country

Proof of vaccination against yellow fever is required if traveling from a country with risk of yellow fever (YFV) transmission and over one year of age.

Routine Vaccinations

Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.

Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.

Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).

Other Vaccinations

Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).

Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).

Meningococcal Meningitis: For prolonged stays, or in case your travels will put you in close contact with a local population affected by an epidemic of the disease (for children over the age of two years).

Measles: Kenya is regularly afflicted by measles epidemics. Ask your doctor if you are due for a booster shot.

Malaria: Recommended preventive medication - mefloquine (sometimes marketed as Lariam) or doxycycline (sometimes marketed as Vibramycin).

For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Natural Risks

Very high

Flooding and drought are the most common environmental risks. Kenya has two rainy seasons, the first taking place from April to June and the second from October to November. During these periods, large-scale flooding is likely, even in Nairobi, leading to severe disruptions of ground transportation and potential landslides in mountainous regions. 

Kenya is currently suffering from two below-average rainy seasons, resulting in food shortages and the death of livestock in the region. The ongoing drought is considered one of the worst in the last five years. According to local officials, residents of more than 42 counties are prone to risk of famine. At least 1.3 million Kenyans are at a critical level of food insecurity. Marsabit county (north of the country) is one of the most affected counties; according to the local governor, more than 60 percent of cattle have been lost, residents are facing serious food and water shortages, and the majority of schools are currently closed.

Kenya is located in an active seismic zone; tremors are often felt in the country.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Transportation

High

Whenever possible, it is safest to travel by air when undertaking long-distance trips within the country. When traveling to coastal resorts, it is recommended to use a company serving Malindi Airport (north of Mombasa) or Ukunda Airport (south of Mombasa). In Nairobi, these companies operate from Wilson Airport.

Although most roads are useable, the country suffers from poor road infrastructure. Additionally, the aggressive driving habits of locals make traveling by road hazardous. This is exacerbated by poor vehicle maintenance and a lack of health care facilities. Finally, due to the lack of public lighting, all night travel should be avoided.

In cities, road travel should be by chauffeured car or by a licensed taxi booked by the hotel. Always travel with doors locked and windows rolled up.

For inter-city travel, it is recommended to ensure the vehicle is well-maintained and stocked with adequate supplies of water, food, and fuel. It is also advised to ensure that the vehicle contains spare parts (wheels, cables, etc.) and has effective means of telecommunication. In general, and when possible, it is strongly advised to only travel during the daytime.

Minibus (matatus) travel should be avoided due to their poor maintenance, the erratic driving habits of most chauffeurs, and their frequent targeting by highway bandits.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Infrastructure

Power outages are common; most houses are equipped with a generator.

Construction accidents are frequent. Buildings often collapse due to low-quality concrete, an inadequate foundation, and poor-quality building materials.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Practical Information

Climate

Kenya experiences four seasons each year: two dry seasons (December to March; July to October) and two rainy seasons (April to June; November).

Along the coast, the climate is tropical, hot, and humid. The area is windy throughout the year and winds can become violent between April and September. The highlands region is hot and sunny with low levels of humidity. Conditions around Lake Victoria are, on the other hand, very wet. In the desert areas of the northeast, temperatures are very high with rain falling in April and May. Sunset is between 6:00 and 7:00 pm.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +254
Police: 999
Fire Dept.: 999
Ambulance: 999

Electricity

Voltage: 240 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

Last update: April 5, 2019