Kenyan exports to bloc rise by $160m

Monday September 20 2021
Cargo trucks.

Slow Covid-19 testing causes trucks pile up for days on the Bungoma-Malaba highway, from the Kenyan side into Uganda. PHOTO | FILE | NMG

By Albert Mwazighe

Kenya’s exports to the East African Community increased from Ksh140.4 billion ($1.28 billion) in 2019 to Ksh158.3 billion ($1.44 billion) in 2020. This accounted for 64.3 percent of the country’s total exports to Africa, data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics’ Economic Survey 2021 shows.

Uganda was the largest export destination for Kenyan goods, accounting for 29.3 percent of total exports to Africa. Export earnings from South Sudan almost doubled from Ksh12.6 billion ($114.6 million) in 2019 to Ksh23.2 billion ($211.1 million) in 2020, while exports to Rwanda went up by 8.8 percent.

Jointly, exports to Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan amounted to Ksh120.6 billion ($1.09 billion) in 2020, a 20.8 percent growth from Ksh99.9 billion ($909 million) recorded in 2019. Trade with Ethiopia and Sudan also grew significantly by 32.4 percent and 42 percent, respectively in 2020, to bring Kenya’s export earnings from the two countries to Ksh17.7 billion ($161 million).

Kenya’s export earnings from the EAC went up by 12.7 percent to Ksh158.3 billion ($1.44 billion) in 2020 from Ksh140.4 billion ($1.28 billion) in 2019. The growth was witnessed despite a contraction of the East African Community real GDP by 0.2 percent in 2020 from a growth of 6.2 percent in 2019.

Pandemic’s contribution

“Covid-19 affected the EAC in many ways vide negative effects on tourism earnings, falling commodity prices and waning financial flows, thereby worsening fiscal and current account balances. Also, disruptions in supply chains affected food production and trade distribution in the region,” the survey noted.


Inflation rose from four percent in 2019 to 4.5 percent in 2020, partly due to currency depreciation and increase in prices of imported food products. The current account deficit widened to 5.7 percent in 2020 from 5.2 percent recorded in 2019, partly attributed to low demand for exports and decline in remittances.

Tanzania’s real GDP grew by one percent in 2020, which was much slower compared with 7 percent in 2019. Rwanda’s economy contracted by 0.2 percent in 2020 compared with 9.4 percent growth in 2019, whereas Uganda’s economy is estimated to have contracted by 2.1 percent in 2020, after having grown by 6.7 percent in 2019. Uganda’s inflation rate stood at 3.8 percent in 2020 compared with 2.9 percent in 2019.

Kenya’s exports to Africa rose by 9.8 percent to Ksh246.1 billion ($2.24 billion) from Ksh224.2 billion ($2.04 billion) in 2019.

But while trade with its East African counterparts and the rest of Africa grew significantly in 2020, despite Covid-19 restrictions, the same could not be said about Kenya’s trade with other parts of the world.

The value of exports to America for instance decreased from Ksh56.1 billion ($510.7 million) in 2019 to Ksh52.3 billion ($475.7 million) in 2020. Specifically, export earnings to the US fell from Ksh51.9 billion ($472 million) in 2019 to Ksh49.4 billion ($449 million) in 2020.

Total value of exports to Asia increased only slightly from Ksh156 billion ($1.4 billion) in 2019 to Ksh157.6 billion ($1.43 billion) in 2020.