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Kenyan Trade Gap Widens on Machinery Imports After Oil Discovery

Kenya’s trade gap in November widened as the discovery of the first crude oil deposit fueled demand for imports of machinery and equipment.

The deficit reached 83.8 billion shillings ($957.2 million) compared with 81.8 billion shillings in the same month a year earlier and 62.4 billion shillings in October, the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics said in a report on its website.

Oil exploration in the East African nation increased following discoveries by Tullow Oil Plc and Africa Oil Corp last year. Imports of machinery for oil and gas development has put the country’s current account balance under pressure, the World Bank said in a December report. Kenya is also making “substantial” investments to upgrade roads and boost electricity generation after years of neglect, the bank said.

Imports climbed by 3.6 billion shillings to 129.9 billion shillings in November from a year earlier, while exports rose 1.5 billion shillings to 46.1 billion shillings, the statistics agency said.

Coffee exports more than doubled to 4,109.6 metric tons in November from 1,989.9 tons a year earlier, generating a 24 percent increase in revenue to 1.5 billion shillings. Shipments of horticulture products rose 6 percent to 18,347 tons, fetching 7.7 billion shillings, up from 6.6 billion shillings, the agency said.

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