Branch of a coffee bush in Kenya with blossoms and unripe fruit. Coffee is one of the country's main exports.

Kenya A driver of economic growth in East Africa

Kenya is a driving economic force in East Africa and also plays an important role in the region in security policy terms. Furthermore, the country takes an active role in political processes both in the region and internationally, for example under the umbrella of the United Nations, the African Union and the East African Community. As at December 2021, more than 540,000 refugees, most of whom had fled the conflict-stricken neighbours Somalia and South Sudan, were registered on Kenya's territory.

Government negotiations with Kenya in December 2022 at the BMZ in Berlin
Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Kenyan Foreign Minister Alfred Mutua, Development State Secretary Jochen Flasbarth and Kenyan President William Ruto (from left) after signing a roadmap for a Climate and Development Partnership.

The Kenyan government has not yet managed to develop the economic potential of the country in way that is socially just and economically sustainable. More than a third of the population live in extreme poverty and youth unemployment is high. Other major challenges facing the country are the widespread corruption and deficiencies in governance.

At the same time, high national debts, also as a result of the Corona crisis, limit the government's ability to act. Inflation and price increases for food and fertilisers exacerbate the poverty situation. Kenya is strongly affected by the consequences of climate change; the extreme drought in the Horn of Africa is leading to a dramatic food situation in parts of the country: Up to 4.3 million people are acutely affected by hunger in Kenya.

In the current Human Development Index (HDI), Kenya ranks 152nd out of the 191 countries listed.

Development cooperation

Germany and Kenya can look back on a long tradition of development cooperation. In fact, Germany is one of the most important donors for this East African country. The key objective of German programmes in Kenya is to get young people there into work. Cooperation between Kenya and Germany focuses on boosting the agricultural sector, sustainable economic growth and the use of renewable energies. In November 2022, a Climate and Development Partnership was agreed between Germany and Kenya, which aims to intensify cooperation in the areas of mitigation (especially through renewable energies, electric mobility) and adaptation (by improving the resilience of agricultural systems).

People on the streets of Nairobi, Kenya

Ambitious goals – hampered by widespread corruption Internal link

Over the last ten years, Kenya has introduced important reforms. And in 2010 a new constitution came into force. The constitution sets out a list of basic rights and provides for the restructuring of Kenya's centralist state into a decentralised republic.

Teenagers on bicycles on a Kenyan country road

Unequal opportunities for many Internal link

There are more than 40 ethnic groups living in Kenya, speaking some 50 different languages. Although there are tensions between the groups, so far there have been no outbreaks of large-scale conflicts. Thus, Kenya is seen as an anchor of stability in a very conflict-riven region.

An employee checks an assembly line on which tetrapacks of fruit juice are being conveyed.

Sound economic basis Internal link

Kenya generates around 40 per cent of East Africa's economic output. And the country is the most important business partner in the region for German companies. Compared with other African states, Kenya has a sound economic basis.

German development cooperation with Kenya

Germany is helping the Kenyan government to facilitate economic growth, achieve sustainable poverty reduction and eliminate social disparities.

During government negotiations in November 2020, the German government committed 117.5 million euros in new funding for Kenya. Of this amount, 79.5 million euros was earmarked for Financial Cooperation and 38 million euros for Technical Cooperation.

Furthermore, the BMZ is also providing funds under its special initiatives “Transformation of Agricultural and Food Systems” and “Displaced Persons and Host Countries”.

The following core areas of cooperation have been agreed upon with the Kenyan government:

  • Agriculture
  • Sustainable economic development
  • Renewable energy

The support that Germany provides is contingent on Kenya's making progress in its efforts to fight corruption. Because there were serious cases of corruption in the Kenyan health sector which were never resolved, Germany decided to discontinue its activities in the health sector as of 2018.

Farmer woman at Mount Kenya

Boosting employment opportunities for young people in food and agriculture Internal link

Agriculture is the second most important sector of the Kenyan economy, accounting for over thirty per cent of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Indeed, since there are still many small farmers who produce only for their own consumption, the informal agricultural sector probably plays an even larger role in the country's economic and social development.

A student is testing solar panels on the roof of a training facility for solar technicians and energy auditors at Strathmore University, Nairobi.

Creating opportunities for young people Internal link

Practice-oriented vocational education programmes are the way to reduce the high level of youth unemployment in Kenya and at the same time address the skills shortage. Young people need to have access to vocational education that will give them the knowledge and the skills that are in particularly high demand in the labour market.

View of the geothermal power station Olkaria in Kenya

Expanding the energy supply Internal link

Kenya derives over 90 per cent of its energy from renewable sources (primarily geothermal power and hydropower). The Kenyan government has set itself the goal of raising the proportion of power generated from renewable sources even further and reach 100 per cent by 2030.

Refugees in front of their huts in Dadaab refugee camp

Other areas of cooperation Internal link

Germany and Kenya also work together in other areas outside the agreed core areas. For example, the German government is helping Kenya to fight corruption and to provide for refugees.