Doing legal business in Kenya

Kenya is home to over 46 million people. It benefits from a youthful population, a growing middle class and a diversified economy. In 2019, its economic growth averaged 5.7%, making it one of the fastest growing economies in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The UK is a major investor, along with the Netherlands, Belgium, China and South Africa and increasingly India and the Middle East.

Along with Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda, Kenya is a member of the East African Community (EAC), a common market of 180 million people.

The capital Nairobi is the main commercial hub for businesses investing and operating across the EAC and wider region. Major multinational companies such as General Electric, Google and IBM Research have their regional or African headquarters in the city. Nairobi is regarded as the continent’s tech hub.

Doing business is challenging in Kenya, but the new constitution in 2010 strengthened governance, curbing the power of the presidency and increasing devolution. A series of regulatory and legislative reforms passed in 2015 focused on reforming the country’s notoriously difficult business landscape, moving it closer to international standards.

Further regulatory reform will be a priority for the Kenyan government, as well as tackling other challenges such as corruption, poverty and inequality. The government set out its development plan in its Kenya Vision 2030 programme, which aims to deliver “a newly-industrialized, middle-income country providing a high-quality of life to all its citizens by 2030.”

Practising in Kenya

In general, foreign lawyers are not allowed to practise in Kenya unless they have been admitted as an advocate in the country. Only citizens of Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda or Tanzania who have the required qualifications may be admitted as an advocate.

Foreign law firms cannot establish their own offices in Kenya. They can only operate in the country through an alliance with a Kenyan law firm. Several international law firms have taken this approach.

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