This trip report was written by Trip Leader Itai Mupanduki and edited by Kieran Hurwood, Managing Blog Editor.
Over the first week of June myself and a delegation of 6 others travelled to Kenya as a delegation from LSE’s Grimshaw Club. The aim of our trip was to learn more about economic development in Kenya. The main object of our curiosity was the economic growth and political stability Kenya has been able to maintain over the last 2 decades. This is despite frequent assumptions within the international community that conflicts between the more than 40 different ethnic groups in the country could destabilise them. In order to learn more about this and other issues we spoke to a wide variety of political, diplomatic, non-profit and private sector figures to gain a deeper understanding of these successes and there causes.
On our first day of meetings June 5th, we were fortunate enough to meet with members of the British High Commission, British Chamber of Commerce, and American Chamber of Commerce in Kenya. Through our conversations with these organisations we gained a much deeper insight into how British and American business have impacted the economy and their continued strong presence in the private sector. Additionally, we were able to learn about what challenges and positives the British High commission has seen in Kenya’s development over time.
Following this introduction to the political landscape of the country from a western perspective we were able to spend the evening learning more about the role the government has played in Kenya’s development through our conversations with former Kenyan Senator Abshiro Halake over dinner. Through this meeting we learned more about how the Kenyan government works day-to-day, as well as the range of priorities each administration has had over the last few decades and how they have all culminated into the current political and economic environment.
Over the rest of the week, we were able to meet with arms-length actors such as the Red Cross, the African Development Bank and the Nairobi Stock Exchange. Our conversations with the Red Cross and African Development Bank showed us the role that aid, loans and credit have played both on the ground and in the development process for Kenya.
The Red Cross in Kenya has been able to actively assist the government in handling many of the health and resource crises that the country has seen, including preventative measures such as water management in rural areas and disseminating vaccines. The African Development Bank on the other hand has done much to provide financing for large development projects and produce research into viable economic plans to continue and increase growth in the future. At the Nairobi stock exchange we were able to learn about the private sector in Kenya and the growth in publicly traded companies over the last few decades. This also gave us much more insight into the role domestic companies have played in the economy and its growth in comparison to foreign multinationals.
Aside from meeting ls we were also able to explore the country’s food, nature, and bustling cities. We spent most of our time in Nairobi but also visited Mombasa, the second largest city, for a couple of days. While in Nairobi, we also went on a safari to learn more about biodiversity and conservation efforts within the region, often a major concern in UK politics due to animal rights campaigning. And last but certainly not least, we were able to try the wonderful food Kenya has to offer from fresh fruits, to grilled meats, and the locally influenced Indian cuisine.