KENYA – Fresh national statistics unveiled Tuesday show that Kenya’s gross domestic product (GDP) was last year underestimated by a quarter.

But the latest update of national accounts, technically known as rebasing, has put the GDP figure for 2013 at Sh4.75 trillion ($53.2 billion), some 25 per cent higher than the earlier estimate of Sh3.8 trillion.

The rebasing involved changing the base year used in working out GDP from 2001 to 2009 and reclassifying economic sectors for greater data accuracy.

This has helped Kenya go up four places on comparative GDP tables to overtake countries such as Ethiopia, Tunisia and Ghana and claim position nine from the previous rank of 12th in Africa. The country also jumped about ten spots globally from position 87, overtaking nations such as Guatemala, Bulgaria, Costa Rica and Lebanon.

“We are now the ninth-largest economy in Africa,” said Zachary Mwangi, acting director-general of the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS). “We were previously number 13 (sic) in the continent.”

Nigeria, which also rebased its GDP in April, overtook South Africa to be the continent’s largest economy, while Egypt is placed third. Algeria is ranked fourth followed by oil-rich Angola, Morocco, Libya and Sudan.

Kenya has, since independence, been classified as a low-income economy in the ranks of peers such as Somalia, Central African Republic, Haiti and Bangladesh.

The new rankings, incorporating Kenya’s revised figures, place Tanzania’s economy at position 13 in size, Uganda (18th), Rwanda (34th) and Burundi as having the region’s tiniest GDP ranked at number 43 in Africa. 

Tanzania is expected to complete its own rebasing this year and see its GDP ($32 billion) restated as about 20 per cent larger once the mining and natural gas sectors are properly accounted for. Its ranking is not expected to change.

Kenya’s GDP per capita has now risen to Sh116,037 ($1,246), surpassing the $1,045 threshold set by the World Bank for a country to join the lower middle-income bracket.

The Washington-based global lender groups countries in four classes: low income for those with GDP per capita of $1,045 or less, lower middle income from $1,045 to $4,125, upper middle income at between $4,126 to $12,745 and high income economies at $12,746 or more.

Devolution and Planning Secretary Anne Waiguru said the higher GDP per capita does not mean Kenya has attained the Vision 2030 goals ahead of time, noting that there remains the challenge of equitable access and sharing of resources.

October 1, 2014;