East Africa’s largest economy returns to growth 

Economic growth in Kenya accelerated in the first quarter, underpinned by a recovery in the agriculture sector, statistics have shown 

East Africa’s largest economy returns to growth 

East Africa’s largest economy returns to growth 

Kenya’s GDP rose by 5.3% in the first quarter, official statistics have shown

Kenya’s economy bounced back in the first quarter of the year, reinforced by a recovery in the country’s key agricultural sector, the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) said in a report on Tuesday.

After four straight quarters of contraction, GDP jumped by 5.3% year-on-year in the three months through March, sharply exceeding economists’ expectations of 3.7% growth, data showed. 

Improved weather conditions are expected to increase agricultural yields and boost hydro-power generation in the country. 

Agriculture makes up nearly 25% of Kenya’s total economic output and employs over 70% of the rural population. The sector was hit hard last year as East Africa’s largest economy faced its worst drought in 40 years, which threatened about 5 million Kenyans with hunger.

“The significantly improved performance of the sector was attributable to favorable weather conditions that led to enhanced production, especially that of food crops during the period under review,” the KNBS said. “The performance was evident in the significant increase in export of vegetables and fruits recorded during the quarter in review.”

A 7% slump in the Kenyan shilling against the US dollar during the quarter boosted earnings of key farm exports such as tea, flowers, fruits and vegetables.

The country’s agricultural sector grew 5.8% in the first quarter compared to a 1.7% contraction recorded in the same period last year, the latest figures showed.