Kenya Demography and Economic Geography

Kenya Demography and Economic Geography

According to topschoolsintheusa, Kenya is an East African state. The young population of Kenya (53% are under the age of 19) has grown at a rate of 2.7% per year (period 2005-15): from 28,686,607 residents in the 1999 census, it increased to 38,610,097 in the 2009 census, while a 2014 UNDESA (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs) estimate estimates 45,545,980 residents. The urban population (25%) mainly affects the capital Nairobi (3,768,000 residents, UNDESA estimate of 2014) and Mombasa (1,068,000 residents). The following weigh on life expectancy at birth (61.7 years in 2013): the spread of AIDS / HIV (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome / Human Immunodeficiency Virus), with 6% of the adult population, which ranks Kenya in 4th place in the world for the number of sick people (1,600,000, 2013 estimate of UNAIDS, Joint United Nations Program on HIV and AIDS); poverty (42% of the population); the inequalities between rural and urban areas, and between inland and coastal areas; insecurity linked to regional tensions and conflicts (in Kenya there are 607,223 refugees from Somalia, 70%, from South Sudan and Ethiopia). The literacy rate is 78%.

Economic conditions. – Apart from the slowdown of 2008-09 (due to the post-electoral and international crises), in the last decade economic growth has averaged over 5%, allowing Kenya to join middle-income countries -lower and top ten Sub-Saharan African countries by GDP: $ 62.7 billion in 2014 and GDP per capita with purchasing power parity (PPA) of $ 3,138, again in 2014. The economy is driven by a fairly diversified production and export structure: the main sources of foreign currency are tourism (almost 1.5 million visitors per year), foreign remittances (2.7% of GDP), tea exports (3rd world producer, with 378,000 t in 2011). The most dynamic sectors are represented by banking services, telecommunications and construction. Furthermore, the economy is well integrated in the regional context: despite the critical state of the infrastructures, the Kenya manages to act as a regional hinge and commercial hub, especially with the port of Mombasa. The development prospects are linked to the discovery, in 2012, of oil fields in the North-West of the country.


With the presidential and legislative elections of December 2007, the elements of tension and conflict, which had not found a solution in the difficult democratization process started in 2002, exploded, plunging the country into a dramatic crisis. Mwai Kibaki’s narrow victory of the Party of national unity (PNU) was contested by his main contender, Raila Odinga, whose party – the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) – had won the relative majority of seats in Parliament. The protests resulted in violent ethnic clashes, costing around 1,200 dead and 500,000 displaced. Only in February 2008, with the mediation of former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, was an agreement reached and, in April, a coalition government with Kibaki as president and Odinga as prime minister. The life of the government, already made difficult by internal tensions, was shaken by the publication of the reports on the post-election violence which led, in November 2009, to the request for the opening of an investigation by the International Criminal Court. However, an important result was achieved with the launch of the new Constitution, ratified in a popular referendum in August 2010. Strongly supported by both Kibaki and Odinga, the Charter was unanimously approved by Parliament on April 2, 2010: thus concluding a iter started in 2002 and which had seen the referendum rejection of a first proposal in 2005. The text strengthened the powers of the president, but also defined his limits very clearly, provided for a decentralized administrative system and introduced the Senate, but maintained the system of Islamic courts which, although limited to jurisdiction over certain matters, were clearly evident contrast with the inspiring principles of a secular state. An independent commission for agrarian reform was also set up with the intention of tackling a problem that had always been at the center of government agendas, also due to the nefarious results of political choices more often linked to ethnic logics than to coherent criteria of redistribution. A dispute arose between the government and the International Criminal Court on the responsibility of the post-electoral violence concerning the modalities of the trial of illustrious defendants such as Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, who, traditionally adversaries for belonging to two rival ethnic groups (Kikuyu the former, Kalenjin the other), however, allied themselves in view of the presidential elections in March 2013. The consultations assigned the victory to Kenyatta, over his contender Odinga, with just over 50% of the votes. In October 2014, after having long contested the decisions of the Criminal Court, Kenyatta, with a surprise move, appeared before the judges, leaving the powers to Vice President Ruto. In December the charges against Kenyatta were dropped, with a controversial decision, motivated by the inadequacy of the evidence gathered, which did not, however, rule out a possible new investigation. The stability of the country was also seriously threatened by the actions of the al-Shabaab terrorists: numerous attacks hit the tourist areas, but also Nairobi – such as that of the Westgate shopping center in September 2013 – or the border areas with Somalia, such as that at the University of Garissa in April 2015. The situation had not improved even after the military intervention in Southern Somalia (Oct 2011).

The activity of al-Shabaab worried the government on the one hand for the high number of Somalis present on the national territory, over 2,000,000 (the Dadaab refugee camp alone hosted 450,000 refugees), and on the other for the capacity of the message extremist to enter the inter-ethnic and interreligious tensions that have always existed in the country.

Kenya Demography

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