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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

The ruling Jubilee party will face a leadership contest during President Uhuru Kenyatta's second and final term, which increases the likelihood of the party splitting along ethnic and regional lines before the presidential election in 2022. The opposition is unlikely to unify in response, however, largely because of separate leadership disputes within the main Orange Democratic Movement. The contested succession of leadership is likely to cause legislative disruption and there will continue to be strong parliamentary opposition to tax increases for businesses and households across the two main parties. The central government broadly agrees with the International Monetary Fund that a cap on lending rates should be repealed, because it has reduced bank profitability and interfered with the transmission of monetary policy. However, parliament strongly opposes repealing the cap. Parliamentary opposition is likely to hinder government plans to reduce the overall budget deficit to its target of 5.7% of GDP in the 2018/19 fiscal year from 7.2% of GDP the 2017/18 fiscal year. The government indicated in November 2018 that it would privatise at least 26 state-owned companiesto raise the additional revenue. Revenue shortfalls will probably disrupt the advancement of development projects and social spending under the president's 'Big Four' economic policy agenda. The treasury already on 8 November stated that new projects will not be approved in this budgetary year (ending June 2019). Lower priority projects include the Konza ICT City, the Last Mile Connectivity Project, and the proposed second runway at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. Islamist militant group Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen (al-Shabaab) has the intent but largely lacks the local support networks to attack hotels and shopping malls in urban centres with vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices. Al-Shabaab conducts cross-border raids involving small-arms ambushes and roadside-IED attacks, primarily against the police in northeastern Mandera county. © 2018, IHS Markit Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
Last update: November 21, 2018

Operational Outlook

A high-profile audit proposed by the president in June 2018 into the alleged misuse of public resources is likely politically motivated, intended to discredit Deputy President William Ruto. Separate investigations targeting parastatal organisations in the agriculture, energy, and water sectors are probably intended to weaken Ruto's support base. Enhancements to procurement regulations, including greater transparency, are likely to gradually reduce opportunities for bribery during competitive tender processes in 2019. Separately, the government will probably approve new laws before end-October 2018 that constrain public-sector strike action triggered by likely budget cuts.

Last update: October 9, 2018

Terrorism

High

Kenya contributes to the African Union Mission in Somalia and, therefore, is a target for Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab. Small-arms and IED attacks target police stations, public transport, and military convoys near the Somalia border in Mandera and Lamu counties. Al-Shabaab has the intent to target tourism assets in southeastern Lamu county, but capability and support networks are more limited. Jihadist recruitment networks are present in Isiolo, Laikipia, Nyeria, Kilifi, and Lamu counties, and new members are motivated to conduct low-capability, self-generated attacks against security forces. Isiolo represents a staging ground for vehicle-borne IED attacks against urban centres, but plots would probably be deterred.

Last update: October 10, 2018

War Risks

The International Court of Justice will next reconvene to adjudicate the delimitation of Kenya and Somalia's disputed maritime boundary on 18 December 2018. However, comparable cases have taken up to six years to resolve. Military retaliation in the event of an unfavourable decision is unlikely. The Ethiopian government has since May 2018 been engaging in mediation efforts with the anti-government Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). The talks indicate that OLF border incursions into Kenya will probably decline further. Kenya and Uganda are also engaged in a territorial dispute, but both sides will probably seek international arbitration.

Last update: October 12, 2018

Social Stability

High

An agreement in March 2018 reached between President Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga largely removed triggers for renewed opposition protests, as seen during the late-2017 election period. However, in early October 2018, Odinga publicly backed a constitutional referendum, which the government has previously rejected. Failure to advance this increases the likelihood of opposition protests. Most affected would be the counties around Lake Nyanza and Nairobi's informal settlements of Kibera, Kawangware, and Mathare. Escalation to inter-ethnic violence comparable to 2007–08 is unlikely. During election periods, protest hotspots include Bungoma, Busia, Homa Bay, Kakamega, Kisumu, Migori, Siaya, Trans-Nzoia, and Vihiga counties.

Last update: October 10, 2018

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: June 1, 2016

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: February 13, 2018

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: February 13, 2018

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: February 13, 2018

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: December 10, 2013