Nairobi, Kiambu retain position as richest counties

An aerial view of Nairobi

An aerial view of Nairobi. 

Photo credit: Jeff Angote | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Nairobi has entrenched its economic output to contribute nearly a third of Kenya’s gross domestic product.
  • On the other hand, the 10 poorest counties- mostly classified as Asals- contribute a paltry 4.6 per cent.

Nairobi, Kiambu, and Mombasa counties have kept their ranking as the highest contributors to Kenya's national wealth out of the 47 counties, a new report shows.

Nairobi has entrenched its economic output to contribute nearly a third of Kenya’s gross domestic product (GDP), even as the 10 poorest counties fail to match a fifth of its contribution to the national cake.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) gross county product (GCP) 2021 reports that Nairobi’s contribution to the national cake has grown from 21.7 per cent in 2017 to 27.5 per cent by 2020. On the other hand, the 10 poorest counties- mostly classified as Asals- contribute a paltry 4.6 per cent.

“There are significant differences in the size of the economy across counties, but the biggest disparity is between Nairobi and the rest of the counties. During this period, the results show that Nairobi contributed 27.5 percent of the total economy’s GVA (gross value added), followed by Kiambu (5.9 percent), Mombasa (5.2 percent), and Nakuru (4.9 percent). All the other counties contributed less than 4 percent apiece to total GVA,” the report stated.

Camille Nuamah

From left: World Bank operations manager for Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia and Uganda Camille Nuamah, UN resident coordinator, Dr Stephen Jackson and KNBS board chairman Stephen Wainaina at the launch of the 2022 Economic Survey report at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre on May 5, 2022..

Photo credit: Diana Ngiila | Nation Media Group

According to the KNBS data, combined, Nairobi, Kiambu, Mombasa, Nakuru, and Meru- the top five counties — are contributing 46.9 percent of total wealth created by the 47 counties, with the top 10 contributing about 60 percent of the national wealth.

“On the other hand, the bottom 10 contributed a paltry 4.6 percent of value-added. Further, 33 out of 47 counties accounted for less than 2 percent of contribution each to the economy,” it stated.

The report which tracked counties’ output between 2013 and 2020, examining activities that are driving economies in different counties, observed that the capital remains highly favoured in terms of productivity, followed by other counties with major towns.

The report cited diversity in economic activities, huge populations, and advanced agriculture as part of the reasons some counties had huge productivity, with those in arid and semi-arid areas recording poor growth.

Among counties contributing lowest share of the GDP are Isiolo, Samburu, Tana River, Lamu, Wajir, Mandera, Marsabit, Garissa, Tharaka Nithi, Taita Taveta, West Pokot and Baringo.

The KNBS report shows between 2013-2020, Nairobi’s GCP contribution to the GVA has doubled from Sh1.3 trillion to Sh2.6 trillion, Kiambu, which is the second grew from Sh288.9 billion to Sh553.3 billion, Nakuru from Sh221 billion to Sh480 billion and Mombasa from Sh268 billion to Sh467 billion.

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