Back

Country Reports

Kenya Country Report

Content provided by
IHS Markit Logo

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 presidential election, which will probably split the party. President Uhuru Kenyatta is serving his final term and is co-operating with the main opposition Orange Democratic Movement. Ruling Jubilee deputy leader and presidential aspirant William Ruto is likely to exit Jubilee and form an alliance with ruling part affiliates loyal to him and smaller opposition parties.The leadership succession is likely to cause legislative disruption. There is strong parliamentary opposition to tax increases for businesses and households across the two main parties which will hinder government plans to reduce the overall budget deficit to its target of 5.6% of GDP in fiscal year (FY) 2019/20 from 6.8% of GDP in FY 2018/19. The proposed 2019/2020 budget prioritises Phase 2A of the Standard Gauge Railway project; lower priority projects are the Last Mile Connectivity Project, the Konza Technopolis, and the proposed second runway at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. Revenue shortfalls will probably disrupt the advancement of development projects and social spending under the president's policy agenda, with priorities not shared by ruling-party members.Islamist militant group Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen (Al-Shabaab) has the intent and occasional capability to target assets and personnel in Kenya associated with foreign political and security activities in Somalia. Improvised explosive device and follow-up small-arms attacks will probably occur less than once a year in Nairobi. Al-Shabaab conducts more frequent small-arms ambushes, kidnappings and roadside-IED attacks in northeastern counties such as Mandera and Wajir.Inter-communal violence is likely in Marsabit and Tana River counties, as well as the southern Rift Valley (especially Kajiado and Narok), involving arson, edged weapons, and occasional small-arms fire. Mugging and robbery are commonplace in Nairobi and Mombasa, with those that have recently used ATMs at particularly high risk of being robbed.
Last update: August 13, 2019

Operational Outlook

Anti-corruption investigations led by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (under the interior ministry) are likely throughout 2019. Rather than improving the business operations environment nationwide, 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. An Italian contractor involved in the USD284-million Arror Dam and USD210-million Kimwarer Dam is already being pursued by the Kenyan authorities. Enhancements to procurement regulations and quarterly meetings with contractors to monitor procurement irregularities will gradually curtail opportunities for bribery.

Last update: July 25, 2019

Terrorism

High

Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab has the intent and occasional capability to attack government and foreign assets and personnel in the capital Nairobi that are associated with political and military activity in neighbouring Somalia. This was demonstrated on 16 January 2019 when six Al-Shabaab militants, mostly of Kenyan origin, conducted a suicide improvise explosive device and small-arms assault on the Riverside Road hotel and office complex which contained a private security company and donor fund supporting international efforts for peace in Somalia. Al-Shabaab attacks are most frequent in the northeastern Mandera county, and Wajir and Garissa along the Somalia border, involving small-arms and IEDs primarily targeting police and military patrols.

Last update: July 25, 2019

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 those that have recently used ATMs.

Last update: August 9, 2019

War Risks

Kenya and Somalia are engaged in arbitration through the International Court of Justice to adjudicate the delimitation of their disputed maritime boundary, with Kenya most recently responding to the case in December 2018. Comparable cases have taken at least six years to resolve. 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 2019. Kenya and Uganda are also engaged in a territorial dispute and both sides are likely to seek international arbitration.

Last update: July 25, 2019

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 have publicly backed holding a constitutional referendum, probably being held in 2020, which increases the risk of renewed protests. Rallies supporting the referendum are likely in the counties around Lake Nyanza and in Nairobi's informal settlements. If there are disputes around the referendum or next general election in 2022, protest hotspots will probably include Bungoma, Busia, Homa Bay, Kakamega, Kisumu, Migori, Siaya, Trans-Nzoia, and Vihiga counties.

Last update: June 21, 2019

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