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 an estimated US$15.8 billion in 2018. That dollar amount reflects a -13.9% decrease since 2014 and a -5.1% dip from 2017 to 2018.

Based on 2017 data, 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 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%), Latin America (2.3%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, then Oceania (0.3%) led by Australia and New Zealand.

Given Kenya’s population of 48.4 million people, its total $15.8 billion in 2018 imports translates to roughly $325 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 2018. Also shown is the percentage share each product category represents in terms of overall imports into Kenya.

  1. Machinery including computers: US$1.7 billion (10.9% of total imports)
  2. Electrical machinery, equipment: $1.3 billion (8.5%)
  3. Vehicles: $1.3 billion (8.0%)
  4. Iron, steel: $885.4 million (5.6%)
  5. Mineral fuels including oil: $847.1 million (5.3%)
  6. Cereals: $834.4 million (5.3%)
  7. Plastics, plastic articles: $706.3 million (4.5%)
  8. Pharmaceuticals: $513.7 million (3.2%)
  9. Paper, paper items: $433.6 million (2.7%)
  10. Articles of iron or steel: $404.3 million (2.6%)

Kenya’s top 10 imports accounted for over half (56.6%) of the overall value of its product purchases from other countries.

Imported paper and items made from paper had the fastest-growing increase in value among Kenya’s top 10 import categories, up 32.1% from 2017 to 2018.

In second place for improving import purchases were articles made from iron or steel via a 27.2% improvement.

Kenyan imports of iron or steel as metals delivered the third-fastest gain up 20.5%.

Mineral fuels including oil was the laggard among the top 10 Kenyan import categories, posting a -69.1% decline (based on the latest estimates as time of article publication).

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.

At the more detailed four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, Kenya’s costliest imported products are processed petroleum oils followed by cars, medication mixes in dosage, hot-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products, palm oil, wheat, mobile phones, rice, trucks then turbo-jets.

Machines

In 2018, Kenyan importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of machinery including computers.

  1. Turbo-jets: US$225.6 million (up 6,216% from 2017)
  2. Computers, optical readers: $132.2 million (down -45.8%)
  3. Heavy machinery (bulldozers, excavators, road rollers): $110.3 million (down -32.8%)
  4. Refrigerators, freezers: $78.5 million (up 72.1%)
  5. Industrial preparation machinery: $67.7 million (up 6.5%)
  6. Derricks, cranes: $65.4 million (down -38%)
  7. Dishwashing, clean/dry/fill machines: $55.8 million (down -12.4%)
  8. Sort/screen/washing machinery: $53.3 million (down -47.3%)
  9. Liquid pumps and elevators: $53.3 million (down -5.1%)
  10. Temperature-change machines: $45.8 million (down -14.4%)

Among these import subcategories, Kenya’s purchases of turbo-jets (up 6,216%), refrigerators and freezers (up 72.1%) and industrial preparation machinery (up 6.5%) expanded from 2017 to 2018.

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 2018, Kenyan importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of electronics-related goods.

  1. Phone system devices including smartphones: US$331.2 million (up 6.1% from 2017)
  2. TV receivers/monitors/projectors: $132.1 million (up 113.2%)
  3. Electrical converters/power units: $103.5 million (up 34.4%)
  4. Insulated wire/cable: $95.3 million (up 1.2%)
  5. Electric storage batteries: $62.2 million (up 89.9%)
  6. Lower-voltage switches, fuses: $55.7 million (up 69.4%)
  7. Electric generating sets, converters: $47.9 million (down -29.3%)
  8. Portable electric lamps: $44.5 million (up 430.2%)
  9. Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels: $42 million (down -41.6%)
  10. Electric water heaters, hair dryers: $39.2 million (up 39.9%)

Among these import subcategories, Kenyan purchases of portable electric lamps (430.2%), TV receivers, monitors and projectors (up 113.2%) then electric storage batteries (up 89.9%) grew at the fastest pace from 2017 to 2018.

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 2018, Kenyan importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of vehicles.

  1. Cars: US$506.9 million (up 0.8% from 2017)
  2. Trucks: $270.7 million (up 56.3%)
  3. Tractors: $128.4 million (up 15.9%)
  4. Motorcycles: $122 million (up 10.4%)
  5. Automobile parts/accessories: $95.2 million (up 12.9%)
  6. Motorcycle parts/accessories: $52.2 million (up 295.6%)
  7. Chassis fitted with engine: $26.6 million (up 2,352%)
  8. Special purpose vehicles: $23.9 million (down -44.3%)
  9. Trailers: $20.6 million (down -6.8%)
  10. Public-transport vehicles: $8.7 million (down -73.1%)

Among these import subcategories, Kenyan purchases of chassis fitted with engine (up 2,352%), motorcycle parts or accessories (up 295.6%) then trucks (up 56.3%) grew at the fastest pace from 2017 to 2018.

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.

Iron

In 2018, Kenyan importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of iron or steel metals (as opposed to items made from iron or steel).

  1. Hot-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products: US$365.6 million (up 9.2% from 2017)
  2. Iron or non-alloy steel products (semi-finished): $109.1 million (down -40.1%)
  3. Flat-rolled other alloy steel products: $105.2 million (up 450.4%)
  4. Flat-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products (plated/coated): $95.3 million (up 160.5%)
  5. Coiled iron or non-alloy steel bars, rods: $52.5 million (down -16.1%)
  6. Coiled other alloy steel bars, rods: $33.4 million (up 56,490%)
  7. Iron or non-alloy steel wire: $32 million (up 61.8%)
  8. Iron or non-alloy steel angles, shapes, sections: $24.6 million (down -4%)
  9. Alloy steel bars, rods: $19.5 million (up 265.9%)
  10. Flat-rolled products of iron or non-alloy steel (thin): $7.3 million (up 100.8%)

Among these import subcategories, Kenyan purchases of coiled other alloy steel bars or rods (up 56,490%), flat-rolled other alloy steel products (up 450.4%) then alloy steel bars or rods (up 265.9%) grew at the fastest pace from 2017 to 2018.

These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported iron or steel 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 April 24, 2019

International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on April 24, 2019

The World Factbook, Africa: Kenya. Accessed on April 24, 2019

Wikipedia, Kenya. Accessed on October 29, 2018