What Are The Major Natural Resources Of Kenya?

Wildlife is one of the biggest natural resources of Kenya.

Kenya is a country located in East Africa and is famous for the Great Rift Valley that runs through it. Kenya covers an area of 224,960 square miles and hosts a population of about 50 million people. Kenya has a well developed physical and social infrastructure compared to other neighboring countries. In the last quarter of 2018, the economic prospects showed a positive development registering a growth of 6% in GDP, and this was a result of expanded transport, telecommunication, recovering in agriculture, and construction. World Bank ranks the country as the world’s 61st nation in the ease of doing business. Kenya has different natural resources spread out across the country. Some of the natural resources in the country include arable land, soda ash, limestone, gemstones, diatomite, zinc, fluorspar, gypsum, gas, oil, hydropower, and wildlife among others.

Kenya's Natural Resources

Arable Land

As of 2011, the arable land in Kenya was approximately 9.8% and out of this 0.9% was under permanent crops while posture occupied approximately 7.4%, while forests cover about 6.1%. Arable land in the country is suitable for agriculture which is the key economic activity in the country. As of 2006, approximately 75% of Kenya's labor force derived their livelihood through farming which contrasts to 80% in 1980. Approximately one-half of the total output from agricultural in Kenya is none marketed subsistence output. Agriculture as a whole is a major contributor to the country's GDP and in 2005 agriculture together with fishing and forestry contributed approximately 24% of the total GDP. At the same time agriculture accounted for 18% of the wage employment and about 50% of the revenue from exports. Farming is a crucial economic activity in Kenya, and some of the major crops cultivated include tea, coffee, onions, cabbages, mangoes, peas, bananas, and beans. Kenya is also a producer of flowers, and it is the third largest exporter of cut flowers in the world. There are about 127 flower farms in Kenya the majority of them are concentrated near Lake Naivasha, which is about 56 miles northwest of Nairobi the capital city of Kenya. According to Kenya flower council, 90,000 people are employed directly in the flower industry, and about 500,000 more are employed indirectly in the auxiliary services of the flower industry. To facilitate faster exportation of cut flowers and vegetables the government has established a terminal at the JKIA, Nairobi airport which is dedicated to the two commodities only.


Kenya has relatively few minerals resources, and quarrying and mining contribute a minor portion of the country's income, where it accounts for less than 1% of the GDP. Other mineral resources found in the country in include soda ash which is mined near Lake Magadi located in the southern part of the country. Lately, there has been an increase in output of the soda ash mined in the country, and 2005 productions stood at 2.1 million tons. The country's largest foreign investment is planned on expanding the Magadi soda. Other minerals found in the country include limestone, salt, gold, fluorspar, and fossil fuel. According to the mining act in Kenya, all minerals which have not been exploited belong to the government. The ministry of environment and natural resources has a department of mines and geology which oversee exploitation and exploration of minerals in the country. There are four main mineral belts in the country named the rift belt, the gold greenbelt, the coastal belt, and the Mozambique belt.


Oil in Kenya is still a relatively new natural resource. It was discovered in 2012 by a British company known as Tullow Oil. The company had previously discovered huge oil reserves in the neighboring country of Uganda in 2006 near Lake Albert which is believed to have reserves of about 1.7 billion barrels of oil. From 2012 Tullow Company has been working together with the government of Kenya to explore oil in the country. The first discovery was in South Lokichar basin in Turkana County with the company estimating that it contains about 240 to 560 million barrels of recoverable oil. In June 2018, the first or early oil pilot scheme was transported from the production area in Ngamia and Amosing fields to Mombasa for refining.


Most of Kenya’s need for energy is generated through hydropower. Currently, the government has adopted an ambitious plan to shift to other different sources of electricity generation. The government is anticipating that by 2030, only 5% of the total country’s needs of energy will be accounted for by hydro-electric power which at the time will be standing at 1,039MW. The major seven forks scheme generates much of the electricity in the country which is approximately 530 MW. The seven forks scheme is comprised of Gitaru power station, Masinga power station, Kindaruma power station, and Kamburu power station, which are currently operational. The other stations which are planned to generate electricity in future include Mutonga, Grandfalls, Sangoro hydro, and the Kindaruma 3rd unit.

Forecast of the Kenyan Economy

According to the African Development Bank, Kenya’s GDP in 2018 grew at the rate of 5.9% which was an increase from 4.9% in the year 2017. The growth was supported by a stable political environment, good weather, and improved business confidence coupled with strong private consumption. Some of the main drivers which pushed this growth included the services industry which accounted for 50.9% of the growth while agriculture accounted for 23.7% and the industry accounted for 23.8%. According to the bank, the country's GDP is projected to grow by 6% in 2019 and at least 6.1% in 2020, which will be supported by stable macroeconomic conditions. Strengthening of the global economy together with tourism is also anticipated to play a key role in the growth of Kenya's GDP in the future.


Your MLA Citation

Your APA Citation

Your Chicago Citation

Your Harvard Citation

Remember to italicize the title of this article in your Harvard citation.

More in Countries