Strong links with the UK
Kenya’s legal system and government structure are similar to the UK. Many UK firms already have a presence in the Kenyan market. Kenya has agreements in place to protect UK companies’ interests and minimise their tax exposure. English is Kenya’s official language and there is a large expat base.
Access to other markets
Kenya is usefully positioned on strategic trade routes, providing access to landlocked neighbouring countries. It has excellent flight and sea connections.
Improved investment environment
The Kenyan government has put pro-market policies in place and is making tax and labour reforms to help investors. There are numerous incentives on offer for foreign investors. The government works constructively with the private sector through various channels and now has more capacity to address issues faced by investors.
Top five UK goods exported to Kenya , in the four quarters to the end of Q3 2023
|Goods||Value (£ million )|
|Mechanical power generators (intermediate)||43.1|
|Other manufactures (consumer)||19.5|
|Road vehicles other than cars (capital)||18.6|
|Medicinal & pharmaceutical products||18.6|
Total import value (into the UK from Kenya) and export value (from the UK into Kenya) over time
|Year||Imports (£ billion )||Exports (£ billion )||Total trade (£ billion )|
ONS UK total trade: all countries, seasonally adjusted
Last updated: October 2023
Total trade is the sum of all exports and imports over the same time period.
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Kenya: at a glance
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Opportunities for exporters
Diversification has kept Kenya’s economy stable and boosted growth in recent years. There’s a wealth of opportunities for investors who are looking to develop businesses, especially in underdeveloped sectors. There are potential suppliers, distributors and equity partners in all sectors – although thorough due diligence is advised.
Digital health is an area of growth in Kenya. There are opportunities in artificial intelligence for medical applications, digital assessment and screening, and online observation and health records. There’s also demand for health and wellbeing solutions for patients in remote areas, and for virtual and augmented reality solutions for training and remote working.
There’s scope for delivering healthcare services in Kenya through franchising, and providing consultancy services in both the public and private sectors. There’s also business potential in remote service delivery, including telemedicine and remote diagnostics.
There are opportunities for UK companies in infrastructure for Kenya’s healthcare system. These include public-private partnerships for commissioning, designing and building new hospitals and regional health infrastructure. They also include providing ongoing management and operational support for these facilities. Existing facilities also need upgrades and more advanced technology.
Improved trade infrastructure
The UK plays a central role in improving trade logistics infrastructure in Kenya. With the support of the UK-funded TradeMark East Africa (TMEA), the port of Mombasa is now equipped with new cargo-tracking technologies and improved infrastructure.
Untapped potential for manufacturing sites
Kenya’s location on Indian Ocean trade routes and competitive wages mark it out as a key future location for labour-intensive manufacturing. British manufacturers have found a willing partner in the Kenyan government, particularly in clothing manufacturing.
Special economic zones
Kenya recently passed legislation to establish special economic zones. These privately-owned parks have benefits similar to export processing zones. The government’s ambition is that new zones will be created across the country, backed by private finance.