Thursday, March 31, 2011

Somali investment in Kenya

Eastleigh. Flickr/Grace Blue.

Somali investment is thriving in Kenya and is centered in the Nairobi suburb of Eastleigh. I had a tour of Eastleigh with Somali friends last summer.

Farah Abdulsamed prepared a good analysis of Somali investment in Kenya (PDF) as a March 2011 briefing paper for Chatham House.

He points out that Somali trade is providing goods and services to local and regional consumers at prices well below the market average. The impact of this effort demonstrates the ability of some businesses to thrive despite conflict in Somalia.

The success of the Somali business in Kenya has caused tension with other communities in the country, leading to widespread but exaggerated accusations of links to piracy and criminal activity.


  1. Are the Somalis Kenyan citizens? If so, are they gravitating towards a particular political party?

  2. Anna,

    Many Somalis, especially those who live in northeastern Kenya, are Kenyan citizens, although most of the Somalis living in Eastleigh have probably not yet obtained Kenyan citizenship, assuming they are interested.

    I hsve the impression that a number of Somali businessmen have ties to Raila Odinga's party, but the vast majority of non-Kenyan Somalis are not involved in Kenyan politics.