When you think about Kenya and what makes it most attractive, its position as one of the largest and most advanced economies in East and Central Africa readily comes to mind.
Over the years, the Kenyan government has implemented supportive policies and regulations to encourage digital trade, positioning the country as a low-risk investment and secure investment destination. Initiatives such as the National Trade Policy and the National E-Commerce Strategy promote the growth of digital trade, addressing issues related to cross-border trade, data protection and consumer trust.
The government has also made substantial investments in digital infrastructure, including reliable internet connectivity, data centres and fiber optic networks. Recently, the government entered into a partnership with the World Bank to launch the Kenya Digital Economy Acceleration Project aimed at expanding internet connectivity and building skills for the regional digital economy. With that, the country experienced a significant growth in its e-commerce sector, driven by increased internet penetration, efficient deployment of digital infrastructure and a growing preference for online shopping.
Digital platforms like Jumia, Kilimall and Masoko have gained popularity, offering a wide range of products and services to consumers across the country. This vibrant ecosystem has created opportunities for digital trade, allowing businesses to reach a broader customer base and expand their market reach.
The booming digital economy is also a critical catalyst for the transformation of the mobile money and digital payments sectors. Our pioneering mobile money services, M-Pesa has transformed the financial landscape and facilitated digital transactions. Since its launch in March 2007, over 63 per cent of Kenya’s adult population have adopted the mobile money application. This has fueled digital trade by providing a secure and convenient payment method.
The entrepreneurial culture and innovative spirit also contribute to its attractiveness. Our country has a thriving startup ecosystem and a pool of talented tech entrepreneurs developing innovative solutions for various sectors including fintech, logistics, agriculture, education and healthcare. Kenya’s startup ecosystem is lauded as one of the most progressive in Africa and currently ranked 1st in Eastern Africa. This entrepreneurial drive fosters a dynamic environment for digital trade, encouraging the emergence of new business models and disruptive technologies. Kenya’s strategic location in East Africa makes it an ideal gateway for trade within the region and beyond.
Its proximity to landlocked countries in East Africa serves as a natural gateway, facilitating trade in goods and services. The Port of Mombasa and Lamu port provide easy access to pan-African and international markets, enabling efficient import and export of goods and services. Despite this potential, businesses cannot outgrow their operating environment or internal capacity deficits. As a regional leader, Kenya has prioritised the implementation of the AfCFTA and expanded participation in digital trade policy development.
Ms Chepkemei is acting CEO, KenInvest