European Union External Action

Kenya and the EU

12/05/2016 - 11:38
EU relations with Country

The European Union is one of Kenya's leading international parters

The European Union is the biggest market in the world for Kenya's exports. It's also a major source of funding to support regional security, of investment in Kenya's economy, of financial support for the country's development, and of aid to alleviate humanitarian crises that affect Kenya. Europeans from all walks of life – businesspeople, tourists, artists, diplomats, NGO workers and many more – are engaged in a relationship with the people of Kenya: a close cultural and social relationship.

Cultural relations

Cultural ties between Kenya and Europe still reflect the limited amount of contact between eastern Africa and Europe until the last century, but contemporary cultural links are flourishing including the organisation each year of a successful European Film Festival which is now into its 27th year.

Political dialogue

Kenya's and the EU's mutual interests and common values make us natural allies. With that in mind, EU diplomats and Kenyan decision-makers are now engaged in a political dialogue about how best to work together: as allies in promoting peace and stability, as partners in trade and development, and as likeminded actors on the world stage.      

The EU supports Kenya's efforts to strengthen its democracy and pluralism, good governance, the rule of law, and respect for human rights. These principles are set out in the Cotonou Agreement, which governs relations between African, Caribbean and Pacific countries and the EU.

Human rights

Human rights is a cornerstone of Kenya's Constitution, as well as being a key value for the EU. Support for human rights defenders is a long-established part of the EU's external relations policy, and in Kenya is implemented in accordance with the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders (Guidelines in English, Guidelines in Swahili).




The European Union supports the efforts of the Government and people of Kenya to improve security throughout the country. Europeans have suffered from terrorist atrocities in Kenya, and the EU recognises that respect for Constitutional and fundamental human rights, as well as a sense of shared social and economic opportunity, is essential to deny the terrorists their aim of undermining free societies. The EU supports governments and communities across the Horn of Africa through programmes to:

  • counter violent extremism
  • tackle money laundering and terrorist financing
  • improve investigatory and judicial capabilities to help prosecute terrorist offences.

Under the Common Security and Defence Policy, the EU also operates a number of missions in the region to:

  • improve regional maritime security capacity including counter-piracy and maritime governance;
  • prevent piracy and armed robbery off Somalia's coast and protect World Food Programme and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) ships;
  • strengthen the Somali Government’s security institutions with a deployed military training mission;
  • reduce Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear risks as well as counter terrorism and organised crime, through the Instrument contributing to Stability & Peace (IcSP). 

The IcSP-funded regional programmes are based in and operate from Kenya, with Nairobi also hosting the EU's CBRN risk mitigation centre's regional secretariat.

Stability in Somalia is vital to security in the region. The European Union contributes diplomatically and financially to AMISOM and is a leading supporter of the country's peace process and of progress in Somalia’s development and governance.



The EU is Kenya's major trading partner. Most of Kenya's exports to the EU are agricultural products, notably tea, coffee, cut flowers, peas and beans. Some 70% of Kenya's total flower production is exported to the EU, with over 500000 Kenyans depending on the floriculture sector.

Kenya is East Africa's regional commercial hub thanks to its favourable location, skilled labour force and vibrant business community. European companies lead the way in investing in Kenya, generating jobs and tax revenue. The European Investment Bank provides long-term development loans to support the building of energy and transport infrastructure.

The European Union is a single market - comprising 28 member states - of 500 million consumers. The EU is biggest trade bloc in the world, accounting for around 15% of global exports and imports. It is also the second largest importer (after the USA) and the second largest exporter (after China). The European Union is the leading market for over than 80 countries, being one of the most open economies in the world.

Export Helpdesk

The Export Helpdesk is an online service to facilitate market access in particular for developing countries to the European Union. This free and user friendly online service for exporters, importers, trade associations and governments, provides:
• Information on EU and Member States' import requirements as well as internal taxes applicable to products;
• Information on import tariffs and other import measures;
• Information on EU preferential import regimes benefiting developing countries;
• Trade data for the EU and its individual Member States.

Trade-related Links 

The EU

International trade in goods of the EU28

EU international trade statistics

New EU Trade and Investment Strategy

EU position in world trade

EU and EAC (Eastern African Community)


WTO trade country profiles - Kenya

Kenya's trade statistics

Kenya and the WTO

UN Statistics Pocketbook - Kenya

World Bank country profile – Kenya

WB Country Economic Memorandum – Kenya

World Bank’s "Doing Business" 2016 data for Kenya.

EU – Kenya Trade Relations

EU trade in goods with Kenya - detail

Trade flows in goods between EU MS and Kenya

Exports (from the EU to Kenya)

Imports (from Kenya to the EU)

How to export to the EU – The export helpdesk

Kenya’s Ministries, Agencies and Bodies

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Kenya Revenue Authority

Kenya Trade Network Agency (KenTrade)

Kenya Investment Authority

Export Promotion Council

Export Processing Zone Authority

The Brand Kenya Board

Anti Counterfeiting Agency

Kenya’s private sector organisations

Kenya Private Sector Association

Kenyan Association of Manufacturers

Other relevant contacts

Trade Mark East Africa

The Kenya National Chamber of Commerce

Kenya National Bureau of Statistics

Kenya Bureau of Standards

Together, the European Union and its Member States are the biggest suppliers of development assistance to Kenya. European Union development assistance supports devolution and access to justice, road and energy infrastructure, and better access to affordable food and clean water.

Based on Kenya’s development strategy Vision 2030, the following sectors of concentration have been identified as priorities for European Commission funding:

  • Food security and resilience to climatic shocks
  • Sustainable infrastructure
  • Accountability of public institutions

In addition the EU provides some funding to Kenya for other cross-cutting activities, such as support to strengthen the National Treasury's role as the national authorising officer of development funding for the country. And Kenya also receives funding from various other EU programmes that address particular topics at a regional (multiple-country) or global level.

Food security and resilience to climatic shocks

Food and nutrition security is about ensuring that everybody is able to access sufficient, affordable and nutritious food. Through its support, the EU seeks to build resilience to food crises and help ensure that no one is left hungry. Fighting under-nutrition is vital to give the world's poorest children a chance to lead healthier lives, learn better and thus improve their future income opportunities.

The EU is a strong international supporter of sustainable development. To address climate change challenges in this context, it backs a wide variety of activities dealing with issues such as adaptation, mitigation, disaster risk reduction and desertification. An example of this in Kenya is the EU's support for Kenya's efforts to protect its forest cover

Support to transport infrastructure in Kenya

Kenya’s Vision 2030 identifies transport infrastructure as one of its priorities. Roads remain the dominant mode of transport, carrying 80% of passengers and freight; they are also the only means of access for rural communities.

The European Union has supported the development of transport infrastructure in Kenya for more than 25 years. The current portfolio includes support for the following projects:

  • Upgrading the road from Merille river to Marsabit (works on-going)
  • Reconstruction of the road from Eldoret to Malaba road (works on-going)
  • Building road links and cycle/footpaths in Nairobi to ease traffic congestion (works on-going)
  • Building a bridge over the Galana river and upgrading roads to improve access to national parks and game reserves(works on-going)
  • Repairing rural roads to improve access to economic and social services (works on-going)
  • Supporting policy development and institutional reforms in the road sector (support on-going)
  • Supporting the Bus Rapid Transit scheme in Nairobi, including building bus lanes (study on-going)

Improving governance

Kenya's relatively new constitution (of 2010) that came with a raft of changes in the country’s political and economic governance envisages a democratic political system that is issue-based, people-centred, result-oriented and accountable to the public. The 2013 elections paved the way for a devolved system of government and a bi-cameral parliament. The priorities for EU support for governance are jointly set by Kenya and the EU, and include:

  • Support for issue-based and credible elections,
  • Support for more transparent management of public funds at central and county level,
  • Support for increased equality in access to and delivery of justice


The EU’s commitment to democracy is a key component of its foreign policy and support to Kenya. Through the Long-term Electoral Assistance Programme (LEAP), which consists of a 5 million contribution to the UNDP led election donor basket fund, the EU aspires to contribute to fair and credible 2017 elections.


The EU is also working with Kenya to strengthen the capacities of the state and non-state actors for effective devolved governance. The EU has supported the devolution process in Kenya through the implementation of various projects and programmes since 2010.Currently the EU is has committed € 28.6 million to the Instrument for Devolution Advice and Support (IDEAS) programme.

Access to Justice​

A key support area for the EU continues to be access to justice. After years of support to the Department of Justice to pilot initiatives on legal aid and to draft the Legal Aid Bill, the preparation are ongoing for a programme supporting the implementation of the new legal aid bill and addressing different bottlenecks of the judicial chain

Human Rights

The EU is supporting the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) implementing a project which focusses on Human Rights Defenders (HRD) capacity building, helping them in particular to better deal with the law enforcement apparatus, to better document their work, and offering them increased assistance in case of imprisonment. Targeted counties are Kwale, Marsabit and Busia.

The EU is also funding the NGO CEFA for a project that aims at preventing and reporting human rights violations within 20 detention facilities across Kenya.

Civil society

Globally, EU has identified three priorities for its support to Civil Society Organisations (CSOs).

  • Enhancing efforts to promote a conducive environment for CSOs in partner countries;
  • Promoting meaningful and structured participation of CSOs in domestic policies of partner countries;
  • Increasing local CSOs' capacity to perform their roles more effectively as independent development actors.

In August 2014, the EU Heads of Mission in Kenya adopted the first EU CSO Roadmap for Kenya, in which priorities for engagement with CSOs are defined.  

The EU provides humanitarian aid which helps support refugees in Kenya, builds the resilience of Kenyan communities that are vulnerable to natural hazards or disease outbreaks, and improves Kenya's emergency preparedness and response.

Kenya is prone to disasters and needs to strengthen its emergency preparedness and response capacity. The El Niño weather phenomenon is causing severe flooding and drought in many parts of the country. Violence between clans competing for resources is a regular occurrence leading to population displacements. Over 1 million people in Kenya, mostly in arid regions, are food insecure. Poor rains, conflict and insecurity continue to destabilise people’s lives leaving them impoverished and vulnerable to new shocks.

Kenya also hosts nearly 600 000 people in refugee camps near the South Sudanese and Somali borders. Over 46 000 refugees have arrived in Kakuma camp since conflict broke out in South Sudan in 2013, bringing the camp’s population to over 180 000. Designed for 125 000 people, this influx has led to overcrowding and water scarcity.

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