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Key findings
  • Kenyans’ perceptions of national and personal economic conditions are still largely negative but more favourable than in 2011 (see Kamau, 2012): Copyright © Afrobarometer 2016 2 o Almost twice as many Kenyans say the country is heading in the right direction (43%, compared to 24% in 2011). o The proportion of respondents who describe the country’s economic conditions as “fairly” or “very” bad dropped from 84% to 59%. o The proportion of Kenyans who say their personal living conditions are “fairly” or “very” bad dropped from 71% to 51%. o More Kenyans expect economic conditions to improve (43%) than to deteriorate (33%).
  • The number of respondent who went without basic necessities in the previous year decreased compared to 2011.
  • In a list of Kenyans’ most important problems, economic management dropped from No. 1 in 2011 to No. 7, replaced at the top by crime and security.
  • More than half (57%) of respondents say the government is performing “fairly badly” or “very badly” in managing the economy, an improvement from 77% in 2011.

Kenya’s credible macroeconomic performance appears to be taking hold, albeit slowly, in its public perceptions: Though still largely skeptical, Kenyans are less pessimistic about the national economy and their personal living conditions than they were a few years ago.

Based on survey responses in late 2014, Kenyans offering positive assessments of economic conditions are still a minority – but a growing minority. Compared to responses in 2008 and 2011, more Kenyans see the country as heading in the right direction, describe the country’s economic conditions and their personal living conditions as good, and expect economic conditions to improve. Moreover, fewer Kenyans went without basic necessities in the previous year, and fewer rank economic management as the most important problem that government needs to address.

Still, the skeptical majority points to the fact that the government needs to do more to instill confidence among its citizens.

Paul Kamau

Paul Kamau is an Associate Research Professor at the Institute for Development Studies (IDS), University of Nairobi, Kenya.