Kenya could reach middle income status in the next four years if its current growth rates are sustained, a new study has shown.
The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) forecasts that the country's annual gross national product (GDP) per person will be $1,030 in 2016 against the threshold of $1,000 per capita used to categorise economies as middle income.
The study makes the country's Vision 2030 growth blueprint of making Kenya a middle income economy closer to reality.
A key assumption of the study is that a growth rate of at least 4.5 per cent, the projected rate for this year, will be maintained for the next four years.
In 2011, Kenya’s real Gross Domestic Product per capita was $830.5, having risen from $526 in 2005.
Seychelles is the richest country in the wider eastern Africa region with per capita income of $11,183 followed by oil-rich South Sudan at $1,570 and Djibouti at $1,400.
Rwanda’s per capita is $600, Uganda’s $550, Tanzania’s $500 and Burundi’s $210. Ghana achieved middle income status last year.
The head of the macroeconomic and social policy analysis cluster at the Addis Ababa- based UNECA, Andrew Mold, however said it could take up to 2026 for Kenya to achieve the status if annual growth rates slip to 1.5 per cent and 2.6 per cent, levels last seen in 2008 and 2009, respectively.
The study—Tracking Progress on Macroeconomic and Social Developments in the Eastern Africa Region--was launched in Nairobi last week.
Dr Mold said urbanisation would be the key driver of growth by reducing the cost of providing critical services per person.
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