Export earning up 17% on a strong dollar

Total volumes increased from 643.7 billion tonnes to 743.7 billion tonnes in 2021

In Summary
  • Agriculture accounted for 44.4 per cent of the total domestic exports
  • This slightly cut the country's current account deficit to 5.1 per cent from 5.2 per cent same period of the previous financial year. 
A worker at a flower farm in Naivasha.
A worker at a flower farm in Naivasha.
Image: File

The strengthening dollar boosted Kenya's export earnings for 2021, rising 17 per cent to Sh666.7 billion compared to Sh567.4 billion in 2020.

Data by the Kenya Trade Network Agency (KenTrade) Business Intelligence Tool also attributes improved fortune to an increase in agricultural export volumes during the year under review.

This slightly cut the country's current account deficit to 5.1 per cent from 5.2 per cent same period of the previous financial year. 

The dollar index, which measures the value of the US greenback against a basket of other foreign currencies, has gained 15 per cent so far since last year.

This was primarily due to the aggressive rate hike decision of the US Federal Reserve and global investors moving assets to the perceived safety of the US amid geopolitical tensions. 

According to the report, top agricultural products (tea and horticultural products) registered about Sh296 billion which was 44.4 per cent of the total domestic exports.

The export volumes increased from 643.7 billion tonnes to 743.7 billion tonnes in 2021 with improved exports in clothing accessories and agricultural products.

“Through the trade facilitation platform, Kenya Exported approximately 1.2 million tonnes of agricultural products, especially tea and horticulture that still stand as our main export,” the report says.

Uganda remains Kenya’s largest market, exporting goods worth Sh91.6 billion, followed by the Netherlands at Sh61.6 billion and the USA at Sh59.5 billion.

The African market, Europe and Asia are some of the highest export regions yielding an export average of Sh170 billion.

On the other hand, the total value of imports increased by 30.9 per cent from Sh1.6 trillion in 2020 to Sh2.1 trillion in 2021, with petroleum contributing to 67 per cent of the increase in the import bill.

Petroleum imported into the country for the year ended June 2022 was valued at Sh336 billion while industrial machinery imported was valued at Sh255 billion for the same period in 2021.

Importation of food products like wheat, maize and rice rose in the value during the review period.

The imports that are consumed majorly in the country are wheat which is the highest imported commodity amounting to approximately 1.8 million tonnes, iron and steel and cement clinker with 1.7 million and 1 million tonnes respectively.

Other commodities imported in high tonnage for the year 2021 include animal, vegetable fat and oil, chemical fertilisers and rice,” the report indicates.

The volume of trade in the year under review amounted to 2.8 trillion compared to 2.2 trillion in the year 2020.

KenTrade chief executive officer Amos Wangora said the findings on both the imports and the exports are made possible through the availability and the increased use of the TradeNet System.

“We have recently made an upgrade of the Kenya TradeNet System to Trade Facilitation Platform (TFP) which has since made the Partner Government Agencies and Users of the system enjoy vast advantages.

The platform, Wangora said is an advancement of the new technology which is robust in nature.

The platform has integrated with various government agencies including the Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA), Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) and Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate (Kephis).

Others are the Agriculture Food Authority Directorate, Tea Board Of Kenya, Port Health, and upcoming integration with Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and KEBS (Kenya Bureau of Standards).

The Trade Facilitation platform has great capacity, is user-friendly, and scalability and it has in the recent past attracted over 35 Partner Government Agencies with over 17,000 users.

“With the recent Presidential ascent of the Kenya National Electronic Single Window System Act 2022, we are looking forward to advancing our services and offering efficient service delivery to Kenya and its environs,” Wangora said.

This is the first report from the new Business Intelligence (BI) Tool.

The tool, which was co-founded by TradeMark East Africa (TMEA), went live on June 30.

The BI is helping the Agency visualise internal and external strengths and weaknesses, detect opportunities for more innovation and will be instrumental in KenTrade’s goal of reducing the cost of doing business in Kenya.

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