Buoyed by falling oil prices, Kenya’s growth is projected to rise from 5.4 percent in 2014 to 6-7 percent over the next three years (2015-2017), making it one of the fastest-growing economies in Sub-Saharan Africa according to the latest Kenya Economic Update (KEU) published by the World Bank.
The eleventh edition of the KEU notes that external and internal balances are expected to improve significantly, thanks to falling oil prices. In addition public investment in infrastructure, mainly in energy and standard gauge railways, will strengthen growth in the medium term.
“Kenya is emerging as one of Africa’s key growth centers with sound economic policies in place for future improvement” said Diarietou Gaye, the World Bank’s Country Director for Kenya. “To sustain momentum, Kenya needs to continue investing in infrastructure and jobs, improve its business climate, and boost it exports.”
The report says that the country’s expansive fiscal policy allowed it to finance major infrastructure projects without putting excessive pressure on domestic financing. “Kenya’s accommodative monetary policy stance has supported economic activities without triggering inflation or putting pressure on the exchange rate.” said John Randa, World Bank Group’s Senior Economist for Kenya and lead author of the report.
Sluggish demand for exports and their declining production is widening the country’s current account deficit. The report suggests that in order to anchor and sustain growth, Kenya needs to boost productivity and improve the business environment to regain and increase its competitiveness.
In recent years the manufacturing’s contribution to Kenyan exports and growth has fallen behind and performance has been less than optimal. “Kenya needs to increase the competitiveness of its manufacturing sector so that the country can grow, export, and create much-needed jobs, said Maria Paulina Mogollon, World Bank Group’s Private Sector Development Specialist and a co-author of the report.
A strong manufacturing sector will create more employment, especially for young people in Kenya. The report suggests that this will also increase exports and reduce the country’s external vulnerability from a widening account deficit.
The report highlights key steps for Kenya to take including implementing the business reform agenda, completing reforms at the port of Mombasa, improving the efficiency of its massive infrastructural projects, strengthening governance, improving productivity, and continuing to maintain macroeconomic stability.
The KEU is prepared by the World Bank in collaboration with stakeholders from the government especially the members of the Economic Roundtable who include the Ministry of Devolution and Planning, Ministry of Industrialization and Enterprise Development, Central Bank of Kenya, Kenya School of Monetary Studies, Kenya Vision 20130 Secretariat, Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis, Kenya National Bureau of Statistics and the International Monetary Fund.