Kenya’s richest counties and what they produce

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  • The Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA) stated that the top five wealthiest counties of Nairobi, Kiambu, Mombasa, Nakuru, and Meru contribute 46.9 per cent to the GDP
  • Nairobi’s contribution to the national economy doubled from Sh 1.3 trillion in 2013 to Sh 2.6 trillion in 2022
  • Despite Mombasa’s economy growing significantly from Sh 268 billion reported in 2013, its contribution to the GDP has declined from 5.55 per cent to 4.72 per cent
  • Meru leads other counties in miraa (khat) production, and besides agriculture, it’s home to a number of national parks and conservancies that attract tourists to the region

In a new report, the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA) has revealed the richest counties in Kenya that contribute the highest share to the national cake.

The government agency stated the top five wealthiest counties of Nairobi, Kiambu, Mombasa, Nakuru, and Meru contribute 46.9% to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Nyandarua was ranked the top county in wealth creation since 2013. During the period under review, the county’s contribution to the national cake increased to 1.52%, up from 1.03%.

CRA chairperson Jane Kiringai speaks at a past event. Photo: Capital FM.

“It is the expectation of the commission that policymakers will use these fact sheets to formulate policy. More importantly, the commission hopes that citizens will use the third edition of the county fact sheets to hold their leaders accountable. An informed citizen is the best auditor,” CRA chairperson, Jane Kiringai, said.

The report noted that counties that underperform rely too much on agriculture for revenue collection, yet farmers in the said counties practise subsistence farming.

List of richest counties and what the produce

  1. Nairobi

Nairobi’s contribution to GDP dropped from 27.5 per cent in 2013 to 26.99 per cent in 2020.

However, despite the drop, the capital city maintained its top spot as the richest county.

Outgoing Nairobi governor Anne Kananu. Nairobi has maintained its top spot as the richest county in Kenya. Photo: Anne Kananu.

The green city in the sun’s contribution to the national economy doubled from Sh 1.3 trillion in 2013 to Sh 2.6 trillion in 2022.

Since 2013, Nairobi has collected Sh 83.2 billion as its revenue besides the equitable share from the national government.

Nairobi’s economy is mainly driven by transport, storage, finance, and insurance services.

The county is headed by outgoing governor Anne Kananu who replaced Mike Sonko. Sonko was impeached over graft allegations.

  1. Kiambu

Kiambu is located within the Nairobi Metropolitan Region.

The county is ranked as the second richest in Kenya, with an economy estimated at Sh 553.3 billion, an increase of Sh 264.4 billion from 2013.

According to the Kiambu county government, agriculture is the predominant economic activity in the county and contributes 17.4 per cent of the county‘s population income.

The sub-sector directly employs over 300,000 people in the county.

Coffee and tea are the main cash crops in the county, while maize, beans, pineapples and Irish potatoes are the main food crops grown.

The county has a total arable land of 1,878.4 Km2, of which a total of 21,447 hectares is under food crops, and a total of 35,367.41 hectares are under cash crops.

However, with the increasing population, farm sizes have decreased in recent years.

The average farm size under small-scale farming stands at 0.36 hectares, while that under large-scale farming is 69.5 hectares.

Kiambu governor James Nyoro is seeking re-election on a Jubilee Party ticket. He will face off with United Democratic Alliance’s Kimani Wamatangi, Chama cha Kazi’s Moses Kuria and other candidates.

  1. Nakuru

Nakuru was conferred city status in December 2021 by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The county’s wealth has doubled since 2013 to Sh 480 billion from Sh 221 billion.

Farmers in Nakuru harvest pyrethrum. Photo: Business Daily.

The Nakuru government website estimates that over 70% of land in Rift Valley county is highly agriculturally productive.

“Over 243, 711 hectares and 71, 416 hectares of the Nakuru arable land are under food and cash crop farming, respectively. The main crops produced in the county include maize, beans, Irish potato and wheat. Horticultural crops are fruits, vegetables and flowers. Nakuru County has a lot of potential in the horticulture industry, especially in the floriculture sub-sector,” a statement on its website indicated.

The county is also rich in livestock production, with cattle, poultry, sheep and goats being reared by farmers in the area.

Fishing is another economic activity common along the shores of Lake Naivasha.

  1. Mombasa

The CRA values the coastal city of Mombasa’s economy at Sh 467 billion.

Despite the economy growing significantly from Sh 268 billion reported in 2013, its contribution to the GDP has declined from 5.55 per cent to 4.72 per cent.

Mombasa’s strategic location at the coast makes it a gateway to the East African region.

“We have established a county trade portal where all the information relating to the process and investment opportunities is readily available especially to our international investors thus making it easier for them to make informed decisions on their investments,” a statement on the county government of Mombasa stated.

The Mombasa port serves Uganda, South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Mombasa has historical tourism sites that earn it foreign exchange. These include Fort Jesus, Haller Park, Mombasa Marine National Park, the Old Town and lovely beaches.

Hassan Joho has led the devolved unit since 2013 when he was elected on an Orange Democratic Movement (ODM).

  1. Meru

Meru contributes 3.49% to Kenya’s GDP. The Mt Kenya East county is the fifth richest devolved unit in Kenya.

Due to its rich volcanic soils in the high-altitude areas, agriculture is the major economic activity in this county.

Meru leads other counties in miraa (khat) production.

READ: Kenya: Millions of Kenyans in drought-hit counties to receive government relief

Besides agriculture, it’s home to a number of national parks and conservancies that attract tourists to the region.

The Meru National Park, for instance, hosts unique wildlife attractions that include the grevy zebras, Somali ostrich, reticulated giraffe, giraffe gazelle and the onyx.

When one visits Meru, they also get a chance to climb Mt Kenya.

Mining opportunities have not been fully explored in Meru. Its major mining activities include the production of building stones and ballast in small quantities.

READ: List of richest Kenyan politicians seeking elective seats in 2022

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