Since independence, Kenya's tourism sector has steadily grown to become one of the largest sectors in the economy and a leading source of foreign exchange revenue for the nation. Tourism earnings rose to KSh 97.9 billion in 2011 from KSh 73.7 billion in 2010 with international arrivals hitting an all-time high of 1.8 million.
Kenya is a vacationer's paradise. A rich heritage offering an array of tourist attractions, breathtaking landscapes and cordial people, makes Kenya a dream destination. The 19 national museums countrywide, National Archives and the Bomas of Kenya are must-sees for culture and history enthusiasts. The same goes for the Arab influenced architecture of Lamu's Stone Town and the Portuguese-styled Fort Jesus in Mombasa. Central Kenya boasts pleasantly cool temperatures, verdant rolling hills, and impressively expansive tea and coffee farms. To the West lies Lake Victoria, the largest tropical lake in the world and the source of the mighty River Nile. Let's not forget the incandescent white sands and warm turquoise waters that have earned Kenya's beaches top international ranking.
Then there's the boundless wilderness that teem with wildlife. Kenya has 61 national parks and reserves dotted throughout the country, 10 of which are marine and located in the Indian Ocean. Notable attractions include unique opportunities to spot the 'Big 5" and the "Big Cats, dolphin watching, diving, dhow trips and mountain climbing. For the birding enthusiast, Kenya has one of the world's highest bird diversities and offers specialized birding safaris. Arguably, Kenya's most renowned attraction is the annual wildebeest migration in the Maasai Mara-dubbed the 8th natural wonder of the world.
Crowd-pullers such as the Maralal Camel Derby are notable international occasions on Kenya's event calendar. Held annually in Kenya's wild and arid north, the 3-day Derby is a must-do for visiting adventurers and the local nomads alike. This hotly contested camel race draws entries from Australia, America, New Zealand, Canada, Europe, Japan and South Africa, pitting them against the reigning Kenyan champions.
The Lamu Maulidi festival is another notable fete. Week-long festivities involving music, dance, henna painting, dhow racing and even a traditional sword fight are held during this cultural and religious festival. More than a century old, the festival draws visitors from Yemen, the UK, United Arab Emirates and other countries in the tens of thousands. Aside from the wildly adventurous and cultural festivities, there are plenty of urbane city events. The Kenya Fashion week, The Kenya Music Festival, the Kwani Literary Festival and the Concours d'Elegance-a celebrated classic car show, are but a few examples of popular Nairobi events. No doubt, Kenya's distinct culture and diverse landscapes are sure to delight even the most jaded traveler.
Kenya has recently been ranked second in conference tourism in Africa by the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) - a worldwide umbrella body for international conferences and conventions. This is thanks to reputable conference facilities and services, as well as the nation's leading role as a regional financial and commercial hub. Whether you are business traveler, "beach and bush" vacationer or a culturally curious adventurer, Kenya abounds with opportunities for delightful discoveries and unforgettable experiences.
Banking and Insurance
Landscape of Kenya's Banking Sector
There are 43 commercial banks in Kenya. The largest in terms of asset value is Kenya Commercial Bank, with an asset base of approximately KShs 190 billion shillings (USD 2.5 billion) at the end of 2008. Post-independence, the Kenyan banking sector was largely driven by the local operations of foreign institutions such as Barclays and Standard Chartered. A very different landscape exists today, where local institutions abound and mostly target the retail market.
There are approximately 6.3 million bank accounts in Kenya. With a total population of more than 36 million people, there is clear scope for further penetration of the market. Nevertheless, this figure represents significant growth in the banking industry from the mere 2.6 million accounts that were open at the end of 2005.
There are currently nine banks or the holding companies of banks listed on the Nairobi Stock Exchange. These had a combined market value in excess of KShs 270 billion (USD 3.6 billion) at the end of August 2009.
The changing landscape - regional integration and foreign entrants
Regional integration is taking hold within Kenya's banking sector. The latest foray into Kenya by Nigeria's United Bank for Africa (UBA) signifies West Africa's increasing appetite to participate in East African markets. UBA is the second bank from West Africa to enter into the Kenyan banking industry. Lome-based Ecobank entered Kenya last year after acquiring a 75 per cent stake in EABS Bank.
At the same time as regional integration, institutions from outside the African continent are moving into the Kenyan market. This is no more prevalent than amongst institutions from the Gulf region with a unique product offering: Gulf African Bank and First Community Bank, each an Islamic bank, commenced operations in Kenya in 2008 offering Sharia-compliant banking services. Their combined operations now represent approximately 1 percent of Kenya's gross banking assets.
Looking ahead - the need and opportunity for consolidation
The five largest banks in Kenya have captured approximately 80 percent of the retail-market. This leaves approximately 20 percent market share for the remaining banks, which are left to compete with each other vigorously for little market gain. The remaining banks exhibit varying degrees of technical sophistication, capital market expertise and technology innovation.
The Kenyan Government in enacting the Finance Act 2008, which took effect on 1 January 2009 required banks and mortgage firms to hold a minimum core capital of Kshs 1 billion by December 2012.
This minimum capital requirement could place a number of the smaller banks in a precarious position, as they may not be able to organically grow their operations sufficiently by 2012 to comply. The requirement should therefore compel substantial consolidation amongst the Kenyan banks themselves, but also act as the springboard for further foreign entrants - regional and global - to take strategic positions in Kenya's banking industry.
Kenya's ICT sector has grown in leaps and bounds since the liberalization of the telecommunications sector in 1999. There are three undersea cables connecting Kenya and East Africa to the rest of the world. There about 20million mobile phone users and hundreds of thousands others accessing computers and embracing ICT. This is an indication of the phenomenal pace at which the industry is growing.
Konza Technology City
Konza Tehno City is poised to be an ICT model for the rest of Africa. The 5,000 hectare tech city will be a hub for Kenya's rapidly expanding technology and entrepreneurial sectors and is already attracting both local and international investors. It is strategically located on the outskirts of Nairobi city, south of the capital and provides an opportunity to design world class infrastructure from scratch.
The commercial engine of the new city will be a cluster of technology businesses, financial services, residential estates, hospitals and other enterprises.
The development of Konza city will further bolster Kenya's economy. Approximately 200,000 jobs in Business Process Outsourcing, Information Technology Enabled Services and related sectors will be created. Konza ICT related activities are projected to generate annual revenues of US $244million. Konza ICT Park jobs are expected to generate US$ 607 million annually. By 2032 the national market would generate 349,000 jobs and approximately 1 million indirect jobs. Dubbed "Africa's Silicon Savannah" Konza is set to become a regional model of technological innovation and promises handsome gains for local and international investors alike.
Kenya is leveraging her infrastructure and progressive business environment to become a global outsourcing destination. An enterprising workforce, suitable time zone and strong public sector support also make Kenya ideal for Investment. The nation's BPO industry is growing at a phenomenal rate , currently employing over 3,500 people from 500 in 2006.Through the incubation project, the Government of Kenya aims to create growth and generate opportunities in the ICT sector. The project will create affordable office space for ICT companies, attract FDI for local companies and service providers and create linkages with strategic partners to build a sustainable ecosystem among other goals.
Kenya has made significant progress in infrastructure in recent years.
Kenya's population and agricultural activity are heavily concentrated in the southern half of the country, along the corridor linking Mombasa to Nairobi and then on to Kisumu and into Uganda. The country's infrastructure backbones, including the main highway and major power transmission and fibre optics follow this route. With the construction of superhighways, Kenya is set to increase its connectivity and investment capacity.
Kenya's rail corridor is of strategic importance to the region as it also links the port of Mombasa to Nairobi and onward to Uganda. Proposed upcoming projects include:
The double track high capacity standard gauge railway line which will form a land bridge between the ports of Lamu in Kenya and Douala in Cameroon. The railway will transfer general freight and containers from between panama-x vessels originating from the East (China, India, Singapore, etc) to similar vessels originating from the west (Europe, North and South America)
A new rail commuter services to the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, East Africa's Air transport hub. The line will provide high frequency, comfortable and affordable commuter services between JKIA and Nairobi CBD. The journeys will take less than 20 minutes compared to 90 minutes currently by road. The project will be rolled out by July 2012
Established on 20th January 1978 through an act of parliament, the port of Mombasa is the second largest port in terms of tonnage and containers handled after Durban. Total cargo traffic through the port averages 14 million tones a year. After Durban Mombasa is the best connected port in the region, with 17 shipping lines calling and direct connectivity to over 80 ports. Mombasa serves the hinterland markets of Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Northern Tanzania, Southern Sudan and Ethiopia.
Kenya is a regional leader in air transportation. Kenya Airways is one of Africa's top 3 international carriers with an extensive network across the continent and a safety record up to international standards. Beyond its role as an international hub, Kenya has a domestic transport market that is the fourth largest in Sub-Saharan Africa after South Africa, Nigeria & Mozambique.
Kenya has made substantial progress with ICT reforms. As of 2006, the country scored around 50% on an index of institutional reform, which is close to the African average. More recently, Kenya has privatized its fixed line incumbent- Telkom Kenya, taking the reform process one step further. With over 90% of the population living within range of a GSM signal, coverage in Kenya is one of the highest in Africa.
Petroleum is the major source of commercial and domestic energy in the country providing about 87 percent of the country's requirements. However wood still remains the main source of fuel especially in peri urban and the rural domestic setting. The transport sector consumes more than half of the petroleum fuels used in the country, while industry takes up some 31 percent. Kenya imports crude oil from the Middle East, to the Mombasa based oil refinery, before pumping the refined fuel upcountry to Nairobi and Western Kenya.
Increased economic activity and extensive distribution of electricity to rural areas has seen a rise in demand for power. The country mainly relies on Hydro electricity for its supply, supplemented by geothermal power.
Hydro-power constitutes around 60 percent of the total electricity generated in Kenya. The five hydro stations combined have an installed capacity of more than 677 MW. The Kenyan Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) is in direct competition with four Independent Power Producers who between them produce about 18 percent of the country's electric power.
There are opportunities in exploration of wind energy and large scale investment in solar power and bio fuels. The vast expanse of the country enjoys sunlight for the better part of the year, which is conducive for solar harvesting. Experimental growing of the "Jatropha" plant has began in the country and especially in the hotter and humid coastal region, which is said to favour the plant. Jatropha is already being tested as an eco friendly organic alternative to diesel fuel.
Kenya has great potential for developing a vibrant film industry that can compete favourably in the international scene. Both local and International film makers have the opportunity to exploit the beautiful and scenic locations available. Kenya is blessed with a versatile coastline, expansive savannah plains, mountains, rivers, lakes, forests and desert landscape all within one nation. The industry is currently generating shs 3 billion but has the attractive potential to gross shs 40 billion annually through creation of jobs and support services.
The 2009 Kenya International Film Festival was a perfect example of this boom in local content production. The festival received 200 locally produced feature films and documentaries, a clear sign that things are looking up.
A number of famous movies have been shot in Kenya or used Kenyan crews including Kitchen Toto, Out of Africa, Ghost and the Darkness Tomb Raider and The flame trees of Thika. Local artists, writers, directors and producers have attracted International attention and acclaim reinforcing the inherent potential.
Opportunities for investment
Numerous investment opportunities exist, either in partnership with Kenyan entrepreneurs or through direct investments. These include the construction of hotels and lodges throughout the country, cultural tourism, cruise ship tourism and eco-tourism. Other investor-ready projects include the construction of a 5000 seat convention center in Mombasa and the development of resort cities in Kilifi, Isiolo and Diani. There are also opportunities in the growing regional markets. For instance, South Africans are drawn to Kenya for its authentic experiences, while medical tourism in Kenya is gaining ground. Sports and adventure tourism are also untapped markets. Hiking, white water rafting, game fishing and kite surfing are some activities which can be further developed.
Business travellers to Kenya will find all of the facilities they need are widely available. Many hotels and resorts throughout the country offer corporate rates and discounts and have modern, efficient business centers with complete computer, telecommunication and internet services
One of the key ingredients for any successful conference is location. Kenya offers something new for conference planners and organizers. We have more options than you could ever imagine for a conference with a real difference. Many of our top class hotels, safari lodges, beach resorts, and even tented bush camps offer world class conference facilities.
These include conference halls and private meeting rooms, audio visual and multimedia services and telecommunications. These facilities, combined with comfortable surrounds, well appointed accommodation and fine cuisine, means that you can hold a professional, effective conference in the wild.
Kenya offers the perfect combination of work and play. Your time outside of the conference room can be spent exploring the wilderness, taking game drives, hikes or visiting local villages. What better way than develop team strength and strategy than to take your delegates on a challenging adventure safari? Rock climbing, white water rafting, came trekking and more are all available.
Imagine ending your day's meetings and discussions with a classic safari sundowner. Your group can gather for drinks around a campfire, as day gives way to night and the air rings with the calls of the wild. In this magical atmosphere, minds become more open, creative and focused.