Kenya Sees Economic Growth Reaching at Least 10% by 2018

Sept. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Kenya’s economy can achieve its potential of at least 10 percent growth in five years as the country invests in infrastructure and becomes a gateway for commerce in Africa, President Uhuru Kenyatta said.

“We are not at the point of realizing our full economic potential yet,” Kenyatta said at a conference today in the capital, Nairobi. “We will raise the gross domestic product growth rate to double digits. I want to emphasize by stating outright that we aim to accomplish this by 2018.”

Kenya aims to rise to a middle-income nation by 2030. Gross domestic product, estimated at $37 billion by the World Bank, rose 4.6 percent last year. Growth is forecast at 5.6 percent this year and 7 percent in the “medium term,” Treasury Secretary Henry Rotich said at the conference.

To help finance infrastructure development, the government of East Africa’s largest economy is mulling the issuance of the country’s debut Eurobond to raise as much as $2 billion by December. The country will announce a lead manager and advisers for the sale by next week, Rotich said today in an interview.

The government will also focus on nurturing both traditional drivers of the economy such as agriculture, which accounts for a fifth of GDP, and emerging industries including manufacturing and technology, Kenyatta said.

Regional Hub

The country serves as a regional headquarters for foreign companies including Google Inc. and plans to create the Nairobi International Financial Center as an entry point for investment groups, stock brokerages, pension funds, insurance companies and banks into Africa competing with South Africa and Mauritius.

“We aim to strengthen and re-balance the economy by building on all our strengths in the traditional sectors, while also growing new sectors,” Kenyatta said.

Kenya’s economy is less vulnerable to the “vagaries” of the global economy and domestic shocks than it was three years ago, Antoinette Sayeh, director of the IMF’s African department, said at the same event. Inflation in the country has been tamed, she said.

Consumer inflation accelerated for a third month in August to 6.7 percent, the highest rate in more than a year. The central bank targets the inflation rate in the range of 2.5 percent to 7.5 percent.

To contact the reporter on this story: David Malingha Doya in Nairobi at dmalingha@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Richardson at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net