Kenya’s Top 10 Imports

Kenyan flag (courtesy of FlagPictures.org)

Kenyan flag (FlagPictures.org)

A country situated on Africa’s east-central coast and on the Equator, the Republic of Kenya’s imports totaled US$16.7 billion in 2017. That dollar amount reflects a 1.7% increase since 2013 and an 18.3% uptick from 2016 to 2017.

Top suppliers accounting for about two-thirds (67%) of Kenya’s international purchases were: China (22.6%), India (9.9%), United Arab Emirates (8%), Saudi Arabia (6.6%), Japan (4.7%), South Africa (3.6%), United States (3.3%), Indonesia (3.3%), Germany (2.5%) then Uganda (2.4%).

From a continental perspective, 65.1% of Kenya’s total imports by value in 2017 were purchased from Asian countries. European trade partners supplied 15.4% of import purchases by Kenya while 11.5% worth of goods originated from fellow African nations. Smaller percentages came from exporters in North America (5.1%) and Latin America (2.3%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean.

Given Kenya’s population of 47.6 million people, its total $16.7 billion in 2017 imports translates to roughly $350 in yearly product demand from every person in the country.

Kenya’s Top 10 Imports

Top 10

The following product groups represent the highest dollar value in Kenya’s import purchases during 2017. Also shown is the percentage share each product category represents in terms of overall imports into Kenya.

At the more detailed four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, Kenya’s costliest imported products are processed petroleum oils followed by palm oil, sugar, cars, medications, wheat then corn.

  1. Mineral fuels including oil: US$2.7 billion (16.4% of total imports)
  2. Machinery including computers: $1.8 billion (11%)
  3. Electrical machinery, equipment: $1.1 billion (6.7%)
  4. Vehicles: $1.1 billion (6.7%)
  5. Cereals: $1.1 billion (6.7%)
  6. Iron, steel: $734.7 million (4.4%)
  7. Plastics, plastic articles: $673.9 million (4%)
  8. Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $656.8 million (3.9%)
  9. Sugar, sugar confectionery: $594.3 million (3.6%)
  10. Pharmaceuticals: $518.3 million (3.1%)

Kenya’s top 10 imports accounted for about two-thirds (66.5%) of the overall value of its product purchases from other countries.

Imported sugar and sugar confectionery had the fastest-growing increase in value among Kenya’s top 10 import categories, up 175.1% from 2016 to 2017.

In second place for improving import purchases were cereals via a 124.7% improvement mostly due to expanding purchases of wheat, corn and rice.

Kenyan imports of mineral fuels-related products delivered the third-fastest gain up 29.8%.

Electrical machinery and equipment was the laggard among the top 10 Kenyan imports, posting a -21.6% decline.

Please note that the results listed above are at the 2-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level. Information presented under other virtual folder tabs is at the more granular 4-digit level.

Fuel

In 2017, Kenyan importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of mineral fuels-related goods.

  1. Processed petroleum oils: US$2.5 billion (up 30.6% from 2016)
  2. Petroleum gases: $113.7 million (up 43.4%)
  3. Coal, solid fuels made from coal: $45.5 million (up 25.5%)
  4. Petroleum jelly, mineral waxes: $15.3 million (up 22.7%)
  5. Petroleum oil residues: $14.8 million (up 13.7%)
  6. Asphalt/petroleum bitumen mixes: $13.6 million (up 23.6%)
  7. Natural bitumen, asphalt, shale: $13.3 million (down -48%)
  8. Coal tar oils (high temperature distillation): $2.6 million (down -7.1%)
  9. Peat: $793,000 (down -30.1%)
  10. Coke, semi-coke: $76,000 (up 533.3%)

Among these import subcategories, Kenya’s purchases of coke or semi-coke (up 533.3%), petroleum gases (up 43.4%) and processed petroleum oils (up 30.6%) grew at the fastest pace from 2016 to 2017.

These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported mineral fuels-related goods among Kenyan businesses and consumers.

Machines

In 2017, Kenyan importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of machinery including computers.

  1. Computers, optical readers: US$244 million (up 30.7% from 2016)
  2. Heavy machinery (bulldozers, excavators, road rollers): $164.2 million (up 21.1%)
  3. Derricks, cranes: $105.5 million (up 38.1%)
  4. Sort/screen/washing machinery: $101.2 million (up 68.8%)
  5. Miscellaneous machinery: $73.7 million (up 106.1%)
  6. Dishwashing, clean/dry/fill machines: $63.7 million (up 24.7%)
  7. Other industrial preparation machinery: $63.6 million (down -8.1%)
  8. Rubber/plastic article making machines: $59.9 million (up 54.6%)
  9. Liquid pumps and elevators: $56.2 million (up 14.8%)
  10. Printing machinery: $55.9 million (up 9.8%)

Among these import subcategories, Kenya’s purchases of miscellaneous machinery (up 106.1%), machinery for sorting, screening or washing (up 68.8%) and rubber or plastic article making machines (up 54.6%) grew at the fastest pace from 2016 to 2017.

These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported machinery including computers among Kenyan businesses and consumers.

Electronics

In 2017, Kenyan importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of electronics-related goods.

  1. Phone system devices including smartphones: US$312.1 million (down -7.4% from 2016)
  2. Insulated wire/cable: $94.1 million (down -22%)
  3. Electrical converters/power units: $77 million (down -37.6%)
  4. Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels: $71.9 million (down -13.9%)
  5. Electric generating sets, converters: $67.7 million (down -64%)
  6. TV receivers/monitors/projectors: $62 million (up 0.2%)
  7. Electrical signal/safety/traffic control equipment: $47.1 million (down -19.8%)
  8. Unrecorded sound media: $36.5 million (up 26.9%)
  9. Solar power diodes/semi-conductors: $33.3 million (up 47.3%)
  10. Lower-voltage switches, fuses: $32.9 million (down -23.5%)

Among these import subcategories, Kenya’s purchases of solar power diodes or semi-conductors (up 47.3%), unrecorded sound media (up 26.9%) and TV receivers, monitors and projectors (up 0.2%) were the only three top categories to appreciate from 2016 to 2017.

These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported electronics among Kenyan businesses and consumers.

Vehicles

In 2017, Kenyan importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of vehicles.

  1. Cars: US$502.7 million (up 6.2% from 2016)
  2. Trucks: $173.2 million (down -13.8%)
  3. Tractors: $110.8 million (down -22.2%)
  4. Motorcycles: $110.6 million (up 36%)
  5. Automobile parts/accessories: $84.3 million (down -3.3%)
  6. Special purpose vehicles: $42.9 million (up 7.6%)
  7. Public-transport vehicles: $32.5 million (down -2.7%)
  8. Trailers: $22.1 million (down -26.7%)
  9. Motorcycle parts/accessories: $13.2 million (up 36.8%)
  10. Armored vehicles, tanks: $10.9 million (down -66.4%)

Among these import subcategories, Kenya’s purchases of motorcycle parts or accessories (up 36.8%), motorcycles (up 36%) and special purpose vehicles (up 7.6%) grew at the fastest pace from 2016 to 2017.

These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported vehicles among Kenyan businesses and consumers.



 
See also Kenya’s Top 10 Exports, China’s Top 10 Exports and Top African Export Countries

Research Sources:
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on October 29, 2018

The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on October 29, 2018

Trade Map, International Trade Centre, www.intracen.org/marketanalysis. Accessed on October 29, 2018

Wikipedia, Kenya. Accessed on October 29, 2018