Exports to Somalia increased by 33.5 per cent in the first half of the year, making it the third largest destination for Kenya’s merchandise in Africa after other markets shrunk.
Exports grew to Sh10.71 billion in the first six months compared to Sh8.02 billion over the same period in 2016, data released by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) indicate.
The performance sets Somalia apart as the only significant market outlet in Africa to record growth months after Nairobi resolved the miraa (khat) trade row with Mogadishu.
Somali overtook Egypt, South Sudan and Rwanda among the top buyers of Kenyan goods.
Last year, miraa, which accounts for up to 90 per cent of the goods that Kenya exports to Somalia annually was the subject of numerous trade disputes, which started with claims of 100 per cent duty and climaxed with a complete ban.
The export ban followed an early July 2016 visit to Hargeisa by a Kenyan delegation led by former Meru Governor Peter Munya, ostensibly to resolve the tariff row. Kenya later resolved the dispute, allowing miraa exports to resume.
The KNBS data shows that Kenya’s other export markets in Africa shrunk with performance of Uganda, the single-largest outlet for manufactured merchandise remaining flat at Sh30 billion.
Tanzania, usually Kenya’s second largest market in the continent, recorded a 32 per cent drop to Sh13.24 billion from Sh19.43 billion over the same period last year.
Tanzania has had a number of retaliatory trade disputes with Kenya including after Nairobi began to restrict its fresh produce trucks and banned its gas cylinders from its market.
Similarly, export to Egypt dipped by 29 per cent in the first six months to Sh7.97 billion compared to Sh11.26 billion in 2016.
Kenya also recorded flat export growth to the landlocked South Sudan and DRC, which both rely on Mombasa port to connect with the rest of the world.
Overall, export to Africa dropped to Sh110.19 billion in the period compared to Sh121.14 billion by June 2016.