Kenyan Economy Expanded by 5.6% in 2015 Despite Tourism Slowdown

  • Key economic sectors seen maintaining growth `trajectory'
  • Security concerns, travel advisories weigh down tourism

Kenya’s economic growth accelerated to 5.6 percent in 2015 from 5.3 percent in the previous year as earnings from agricultural exports and construction outweighed a slowdown in tourism, the nation’s statistics agency said.

East Africa’s biggest economy, which relies on agriculture for about a quarter of its output, expects key sectors of the economy to continue on the “current growth trajectory,” the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics said, without giving a forecast for 2016.

Growth in 2015 was supported by a stable macroeconomic environment, and improvement in the agriculture, finance and insurance sectors, KNBS Director-General Zachary Mwangi told reporters in Nairobi, the capital.

Tea output declined by a 10th to 399.1 million metric tons after drought hurt farming, but earnings rose to 123 billion shillings ($1.22 billion), according to KNBS. Horticultural production increased by 8 percent to 238.7 million tons and earned 101 billion shillings.

Tourism earnings took a 3 percent knock to 84.6 billion shillings as the industry reeled from travel advisories by European countries that followed attacks by al-Qaeda-linked Somali militant group al-Shabaab, including an assault on the upmarket Westgate mall in Nairobi in September 2013.

Manufacturing, which contributes about a 10th to output, grew by 3.5 percent, benefiting from lower petroleum and electricity costs. The $61 billion economy generated 841,600 new jobs with the bulk of them in the informal sector.

Growth in 2016 will largely depend on domestic factors and whilst a slowdown is expected in agriculture, output will be a “moderate positive growth,” KNBS said.

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