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Learn Your World - Kenya

To support your global practice, ACC Docket offers country-specific fun facts from your peers who've been there — literally.

Economy

GDP (purchasing power parity in USD): $141.6 billion (2015 est.)


Population

44.35 million (2013 estimate)


Official languages

English, Swahili


Corruption

According to Transparency International’s 2015 Corruption Perception Index, Kenya ranked 139th “cleaniest” (i.e., least corrupt) out of 168 countries surveyed.


Legal system

Mixed - English common law and Islamic/customary law


Additional resources

www.magicalkenya.com/, the official Kenyan destination site

www.nation.co.ke/, Daily Nation, English language Kenyan newspaper

K enya is the fastest growing economy in Africa. A former British colony, Kenya offers a well-educated pool of tech-savvy employees to facilitate regional business operations. While the official language for all formal interactions is English, Kenya is comprised of at least 40 different tribes that are now united and speak Swahili. Nairobi, the capital, is known as “the green city under the sun.” Situated on the equator, the city’s weather is mostly tropical. From July to September, however, it can get unexpectedly cold.

Most Kenyans go by their second name. For example, Anthony Muigai would be referred to as “Muigai.” Kenyans take pride in their appearance. The popular second-hand clothing markets (gikomba) allow Kenyans to be fashionable on a budget. Kenyans are warm, hospitable, churchgoing, and politically involved. It is not taboo to bring up politics at the dinner table. Kenyans are also very proud of US President Barack Obama’s Kenyan roots, honouring him as a “Son of Kenya” during his 2015 visit.

Most business and social meetings run late, as lack of punctuality is the norm. Kenya’s colonial infrastructure cannot sustain its population growth, which often results in horrendous and unpredictable traffic. That said, traffic is the best excuse to use when one is late. Despite developing minor inconveniences, Kenya is a beautiful country and an exciting place to work.

Nairobi and other large cities in Kenya are concrete metropolises that house NGOs, parastatals, and other organizations. Game parks, beaches, mountains, music events, and bazaars are inviting distractions from the office. Local coffee shops serve up some of the best Arabica coffees in the world. The local culinary delight is “nyama choma,” or goat barbeque, which is served with “kachumbari,” a tomato and onion salad with salt. Kenyan food is served best when washed down with our famous “Tusker” beer.

Kenya is Africa’s Silicon Valley, and is often viewed as a rising epicenter for local and global innovation. It is investor-friendly and open to aid agencies, development funds, and foreign NGOs. The launch of M-Pesa, a mobile money transfer system made by a Kenyan company, and iHub, an innovation space in Nairobi, showcase Kenya as a bed of entrepreneurship.

Adventure and work satisfaction await you in Kenya!

About the Author

Farah Esmail is the head of Legal and HR of ORBIT Chemical Industries Limited in Nairobi, Kenya.