Kenya’s Tourism Earnings Up 31%

Kenya’s 2018 tourist arrivals grew by 37.33 percent from the previous year to cross the two million mark for the first time, posting a significant growth in earnings to Sh157 billion.

The earnings are an 31.2 percent improvement from the Sh119 billion earned in 2017, according to Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala.

The latest statistics show there were 2,025,206 tourists arriving compared with 1,474,671 international arrivals in the previous year.

The United States remained Kenya’s leading market, growing by 11.12 per cent with 225,157 arrivals.

“The gains of the sector were as a result of coordinated efforts between various arms of government, whom the tourism sector has engaged, as well as the concerted efforts in marketing Kenya as a destination of choice,” Mr Balala said, while releasing the tourism data at State House, Mombasa.

Tanzania was second with a 10.48 per cent share of the arrivals at 212,216 tourists. Uganda was third with a share of 10.08 per cent at 204,082 arrivals.

Other top markets were India, China, Germany, Italy and South Africa.

Mr Balala said a total of 3.9 million bed nights were taken up by Kenyans last year compared with 3.6 million in 2017.

“Domestic bed night for the year 2018 were estimated at 3,974,243, a 9.03 per cent increase compared to 2017 data of 3, 645, 243,” he said.

Refurbish products

While receiving the tourism performance report, President Uhuru Kenyatta encouraged private sector players to invest more in refurbishing their products and revamping tourism experiences.
“As part of enhancing repeat visits, as well as recommend the destination to other visitors. Kenya currently has a total of 68 global hotel brands, a clear indication that the international community is confident of returns in investment in the tourism sector,” said the President.
The president expressed his satisfaction on the overall achievement of the country’s foreign exchange earner saying it is a key sector that contributes substantively to the economy.

Mr Kenyatta also urged county governments to prioritise packaging of tourism products by partnering with government expert to boost the sector.

“Counties are key players and hosts of many tourism experiences, they should partner with government expert agencies, like the Kenya Tourism Board and collaborate with neighbouring devolved units to enrich the existing tourism circuits,” he added.

The president said the Sh460 Mama Ngina Waterfront is a key project that will be part of enhancing the coastal tourism experience.

The recreational facility is being upgraded and given a facelift to attain international standards.

Mr Balala attributed the gains made by the sector to coordinated efforts between various arms of government, marketing of Kenya as a destination of choice among other strategies.

“We engaged various government departments, concerted efforts in marketing Kenya as a destination of choice. Investment of the recovery funding has also helped in growing the sector,” he elaborated.

North Africa’s decline

Mr Balala said Kenya also benefitted from the North Africa decline of tourism.

“The Arab Spring has affected them badly as well as areas like India and Thailand which have their own issues.

“Both Florida and Caribbean areas with the weather patterns changing, it has affected and people are now moving to Africa,” he elaborated on Sunday during a press conference at English Point Marina in Mombasa.


For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: Sergey Pesterev [1], [2].

Africa’s Dominant Mobile Money Service is Going Global

Kenya’s biggest mobile money service M-Pesa is going global in a deal with Western Union that would allow users to send money all over the world.

M-Pesa’s over 23 million active subscribers in Kenya will also be able to send and receive money through their phones and be connected to WU’s 500,000 global agents. Safaricom, which runs M-Pesa, said transfers through bank accounts to Germany, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom will also be available, with services to bank accounts in other countries being rolled out in the coming weeks.

Started 11 years ago as a platform for texting small payments between users, M-Pesa has grown into a service with subscribers in 10 nations across Africa, Europe, and Asia. In Kenya alone, it has 160,000 agents and did over 580 million transactions in the three months ending June 2018, according to the Communications Authority of Kenya.

Its growth has had wider implications for financial inclusion and digital banking, showing banks that mobile money presents an opportunity to increase payments income as well as earn interest on increased deposits. M-Pesa grew so big and so fast that regulators once mulled over splitting it from its parent company—but later backtracked on that proposal.

But as the service grew in numbers, Safaricom’s CEO Bob Collymore in 2016 called M-Pesa a “clumsy” product that was “far from elegant” when stacked up against other tech products. And so began a process of innovation, one that could stave off competition, help Safaricom diversify its products, widen its mobile and fintech network, and put M-Pesa into the hands of many more users.

In the last few years, the company launched the ride-hailing service Little, an e-commerce platform Masoko, and a music streaming service Songa, which all allowed users to pay for services via M-Pesa. Last October, the operator also launched M-Pesa 1Tap, which used a card, phone sticker or wristband device to allow for secure and faster payments. In February, Google enabled M-Pesa payments on its app store, making the US tech giant one of the first among global digital distribution sites to adapt to mobile money.

In April, Safaricom partnered with PayPal to allow e-commerce businesses to seamlessly transfer money between the two services and into their mobile wallets. The company launched Bonga chat service which let M-Pesa users talk while sending and receiving money. And in a bid to boost its numbers, Safaricom is reportedly taking M-Pesa to Ethiopia, a market of over 100 million that is slowly opening up to investors.

The deal to take M-Pesa global also boosts Western Union which has faced tough competition from fintech startups like TransferWise and WorldRemit that offer cheaper and faster online transfers—forcing the company to cut prices and shift to a digital strategy.


For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

Kenya, South Africa to Launch Long-term Multiple Travel Visas

Long-term visas will become available for South Africans wanting to travel to Kenya and Kenyans wanting to visit South Africa as of December 1.

The announcement was made by Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba and his Kenyan counterpart Interior Minister Fred Matiang’i on Monday after the two held bilateral talks and took a tour of Lindela Repatriation Centre in Krugersdorp.

In September Gigaba announced that South Africa would be easing some immigration rules including agreeing to visa waiver agreements with more countries in an effort to boost investment and tourism as part of a broader economic turnaround programme announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The two leaders said both countries would continue working on ways to maximise their cooperation and allowing for passport holders to have long-term multiple entry visa arrangements for business people, academics and frequent travellers between the two countries.

“It’s a historic achievement, we made tremendous progress,” said Matiang’i.

He said as of the arrangement would benefit both countries tremendously.

“This is intended to improve trade between the two countries, interaction between the two countries and to support the people between the two nations engaging in various economic activities of mutual benefit,” said Matiang’i.

He told journalists at the briefing that the east African country viewed its relationship with South Africa as critical and that the presidents of both countries – Ramaphosa and Uhuru Kenyatta – had instructed both ministers to work towards removing barriers and impediments to the growing relationship.

“And today we made a huge achievement in removing those barriers, whatever is left, we will be able to sort out in the next three months,” said Matiang’i.

Praise for Lindela

The Kenyan minister said he believed relaxing visa requirements would lead to the most “seamless interaction between South Africa and Kenya in history.”

Matiang’i also praised the repatriation centre, which he said was a “luxury” for deportees waiting to be processed and taken back to their respective countries.

“The minister has taken me through this facility, I am basically floored, shocked that South Africa actually makes this kind of investment to address the needs of deportees,” said Matiang’i.

South Africa’s home affairs minister, in turn, thanked Kenya for its efforts in preventing illegal immigrants from making their way to the country.

“I thanked the minister for the work they continue to do to repel a lot of illegal immigrants destined for South Africa, on a daily basis hundreds of people are being stopped in Kenya who are destined for South Africa,” said Gigaba.

He added that Kenya contributed to keeping the country safe.

Gigaba said the partnership would contribute to tourism in the two countries and support the visions shared by both Ramaphosa and Kenyatta for free movement of people between the countries.

He said academics and business people would be able to get ten-year visas, while frequent travellers would be able to apply for three-year multiple entry visas, a feat Gigaba said would also alleviate administrative pressure on their respective departments.


For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

Kenya: All Work Permits Must Be Verified Before 21 July 2018

Every foreign national in Kenya who is the holder of a work permit is required to visit the Immigration Department to have their documents verified between 21st May 2018 and 21st July 2018.

The holders should physically present themselves at the Immigration Department since biometric data collection is part of the process. After the verification process, e-permits will be introduced.

The following original documents must be presented:

  • Work permit
  • Valid official endorsement on passport
  • Valid alien card
  • Official payment receipt
  • KRA pin

Employers should ensure that their foreign national employees attend the Immigration Department with the required documents by 21st July 2018.


For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, and Remuneration needs, email, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Source: [1]. Image source: [1].

From The Hippo’s Ears: Kenya

Contributions by Rose.

Facts you may not have know about Kenya:

Kenya, officially the Republic of Kenya, is a country in east Africa. Its capital and largest city is Nairobi. Kenya has a population of approximately 49 million, and gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1963, after which it became a republic in 1964.

Kenya is the biggest and most advanced economy in east and central Africa, and is often classified as a frontier market. The economy has seen much expansion, seen by strong performance in tourism, higher education, and telecommunications.

Today, Kenya’s services sector, which contributes 61% of GDP, is dominated by tourism. The tourism sector has exhibited steady growth in most years since independence and by the late 1980s had become the country’s principal source of foreign exchange. Tourists, the largest number being from Germany and the United Kingdom, are attracted mainly to the coastal beaches and the game reserves, notably, the expansive East and Tsavo West National Park 20,808 square kilometres (8,034 sq mi) in the southeast.

1.  When you first meet someone, how do you greet them?

When meeting someone, a common greeting is a handshake. Alternatively, those who know one another well may choose to hug.

2. What languages are spoken in your country?

English and Kiswahili are the official languages. Many Kenyans speak three languages – the aforementioned two, plus their mother tongue. There are a total of 69 languages spoken in Kenya.

3. Do you use a twelve hour clock, or a twenty-four hour clock?

We use a 12-hour clock.

4. What side of the road do people drive on? What do we need to know about driving in Kenya?

We drive on the left side of the road. While drivers tend to oblige by the rules, public transit, such as buses and taxis, will refuse to give way to others on the road. Kenya’s railway system links the nation’s ports and major cities, connecting it with neighboring Uganda.

5. How important is punctuality?

Punctuality is not of utmost importance in Kenya, with many people often running late and blaming traffic.

6. Which types of music are popular? Who are some of your most popular musicians?

Kenya has no single prominent culture that identifies it. It instead consists of the various cultures of the country’s different communities.

Kenya is home to a diverse range of music styles, ranging from imported popular music, afro-fusion and benga music to traditional folk songs. The guitar is the most popular instrument in Kenyan music, and songs often feature intricate guitar rhythms. Popular musicians/music groups include Sauti Sol, Willy Paul, Size 8, and Nameless.

For a taste of Kenyan music, listen to Sauti Sol’s Melanin and Nameless’ Inspire.

7. Are there any Traditional Dances?

Yes, there are numerous. The Maasai community in Kenya celebrates several unique traditional ceremonies, one of which is the Eunoto. The ceremony is performed by members of the same age group 10 years after they are initiated in to adulthood. The ceremony is marked by a unique Maasai traditional dance called “Adumu.”

Mwomboko dance is one of the most common traditional dances among the Agikuyu people, the largest ethnic group in Kenya. The dance is usually performed during historic events, such as Madaraka Day, which commemorates the day Kenya gained internal self-rule from the British colonizers.

Isikuti is a popular traditional dance practiced by the Isukha and Idakho clans of the larger Luhya community. It’s a fast-paced and energetic dance, involving both men and women. The dance is characterized by the vigorous shaking of the shoulders and waist and rhythmic stamping of the feet.

For an example of Kenyan dancing, click here.

8.  What traditional Festivals are celebrated in your community?

Every year Lamu comes to life during the Lamu Cultural Festival, as Kenyans come together to celebrate both the past, future, the beliefs and traditions that are the heart and soul of this community in the lovely enchanting island of Lamu. An ancient Swahili township, Lamu is a World Heritage site and the cultural festival offers an insight of how life in the old days was in terms of architecture and lifestyle.

The event is usually held annually in November, with exciting activities such as traditional Swahili poetry, henna painting, donkey races and dhow sailing, culminating with a traditional Swahili wedding and a chance to enjoy various Swahili dishes.

The Lake Turkana Festival is usually held around May, and features unique performances and demonstrations of ten different ethnic communities which live in the Lake Turkana region. With traditional dances and a chance to taste various foods from these communities as well as being able to visit their unique huts and get a taste to experience life in Loiyangani in Northern Kenya.

The presentation of the customs and living conditions of the ten tribes, their spectacular traditional costumes arts and crafts, dances and music is a fascinating experience that leaves one with a positive perception of the Lake Turkana region.

9. What are your seasons like?

Kenya’s climate varies from tropical along the coast to temperate inland to arid in the north and northeast parts of the country. The area receives a great deal of sunshine every month, and summer clothes are worn throughout the year. It is usually cool at night and early in the morning inland at higher elevations.

The “long rains” season occurs from March/April to May/June. The “short rains” season occurs from October to November/December. The rainfall is sometimes heavy and often falls in the afternoons and evenings. The temperature remains high throughout these months of tropical rain. The hottest period is February and March, leading into the season of the long rains, and the coldest is in July, until mid August.

10. Tell us an interesting fact about your President?

President Uhuru Kenyatta is the son of Kenya’s first President, Jomo Kenyatta, and his fourth wife Mama Ngina Kenyatta. His given name “Uhuru” is from the Swahili term for “freedom”, and was given to him in anticipation of Kenya’s upcoming independence.

11. What are the country’s major industries?

Major industries in Kenya include the service industry, dominated by tourism, as well as agriculture. The principal cash crops are tea, horticultural produce, and coffee.

12. How do people spend their free time?

Many Kenyans enjoy spending time with their family. Kenya is active in several sports, among them cricket, rallying, football, rugby union and boxing. The country is known chiefly for its dominance in middle-distance and long-distance athletics. Many may choose to spectate during events. Kenya is also home to a wide variety of food outlets to spend time in.

13. What do people drink?

Tea and beer are popular among Kenyans.

14. What is a popular local dish?

Nyama Choma (grilled meat) is a favourite way of preparing and eating meat in Kenya, especially when celebrating events. Chicken, beef, and goat are commonly used. Ugali (maize meal) is a basic staple – a type of porridge, often served with salad.

15. What do you pay for? (1 USD = approx. Ksh 101)

  • Milk: sold in packets, between Ksh 50 and 60
  • Coca cola: between Ksh 35 and 100, depending on location
  • Cup of coffee: between Ksh 100 and 250, depending on location
  • 2 Course meal: about Ksh 1800 t0 2500
  • Glass of wine: between Ksh 250 and 450
  • Loaf of bread: between Ksh 50 and 100

16. General Safety?

  • Don’t use your phone in traffic with your windows open.
  • Don’t leave valuables on display in your car.
  • Take care walking around after dark.

17. In conclusion, famous (and sometimes infamous) people from Kenya include:

  • Former Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, is identified as one of the leading forces behind the democratization process of Kenya, particularly during the repressive regime of President Daniel arap Moi.
  • Former Prime Minister and former President Jomo Kenyatta, who was the country’s first black head of government and played a significant role in the transformation of Kenya from a colony of the British Empire into an independent republic.


For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, and Remuneration needs, email, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2], [3], [4]. Image source: [1].