The Kenyan economy grew by 5.6 per cent compared to 5.3 per cent in 2014 on the back of strong expansion in the agricultural and construction sectors.

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The agricultural sector, which includes the forestry and fishing sub-sectors, saw its share of the gross domestic product (GDP) rise to 30 per cent as its growth in 2015 stood at 5.6 per cent — same as overall economic growth for the year — compared to just 3.5 per cent the previous year.

The last time the growth of the agricultural sector exceeded 5.6 per cent was in 2010 when it expanded by 10.1 per cent.

“The sector’s performance was largely influenced by weather patterns in 2015 with heavy and well-spread long rains experienced in most parts of the country,” said Zachary Mwangi, the director-general of the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS).

The short rains period, characterised by the El Niño weather phenomenon, started in November 2015.

The construction sector, comprising roads, railway and buildings, expanded by 13.6 per cent — the largest growth among the various sectors in 2015. The sector has a 4.8 per cent share of the GDP.

Kenya is currently undertaking construction of the standard gauge railway (SGR), which has been hailed as a critical mover of the economy last year, this year and the next.

The first phase of the SGR project — between Nairobi and Mombasa — is supposed to be completed by mid-next year.

“This growth was to a great extent buoyed by the development of transport infrastructure such as the continued implementation of the first phase of the standard gauge railway, development of the road network, expansion and rehabilitation of facilities at the airports and improvement of port facilities to enhance operational efficiency,” said Mr Mwangi.

The financial sector gained from the expansion in the construction sector, with loans and advances to it increasing to Sh106.3 billion from Sh80.4 billion the previous year.

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The financial sector, including insurance, grew by 8.7 per cent, higher than the 8.3 per cent posted the previous year.

“The sector’s performance is clearly manifested in the performance of other sectors especially construction, manufacturing and agriculture that recorded significant rise in credit advanced by commercial banks and cooperative societies,” says the Economic Survey 2016 report.

The manufacturing sector growth was 3.5 per cent last year, up from 3.2 per cent in 2014. The sector also marginally increased its share of GDP to 10.3 per cent compared to 10 per cent the previous year.

The information, communication and technology (ICT) sector slowed down to 7.3 per cent growth last year compared to a more robust growth of 14.6 per cent the previous year.

“The slowdown was mainly occasioned by a dampened growth in the telecommunications subsector in 2015. Publishing, broadcasting, other information technologies and information activities recovered from a 1.8 per cent decline in 2014 to record a growth of 2.9 per cent in 2015,” says the Economic Survey.
Mr Mwangi said that Internet penetration had increased to 54.2 per cent from 38.3 per cent the previous year.

Saitoti Torome, the principal secretary at the State Department of Planning and Statistics, said that the KNBS was now working on the more detailed statistics for counties. There is no data yet on the GDP performance by counties.

The wholesale and retail trade business expanded by 6.0 per cent, slower than in the previous year when it rose by 7.5 per cent — an indication of a slowdown in consumption.

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Source: Business Daily Africa

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