Gross County Product: What is Driving Counties’ Growth?

A recent report on Gross County Product (GCP) released by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows that counties’ growth is driven mostly by agriculture and services. An analysis of growth sectors for the top ten counties contribute the most to Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) shows that Nairobi’s growth is driven by the services sector. This sector accounted for just about two-thirds of its growth over the period of analysis. The manufacturing sector also contributed significantly to Nairobi’s growth with 25 per cent of its growth coming from the sector (see Figure 1).


The report shows that agriculture drove the growth of almost half of the top ten counties while services fuelled the growth of the other half. More specifically, agriculture saw Nyandarua, Nakuru, Meru and Kakamega counties make it among the counties that contributed the most to Kenya’s GDP over the period of analysis. On the other hand, the services sector powered the growth for Mombasa, Nairobi, Kisumu and Uasin Gishu counties.

The manufacturing sector is concentrated among the major towns in Kenya. As the report confirms, the sector fuelled the growth of Nairobi, Machakos and Mombasa counties accounting for 14-25 per cent of their growths. Machakos benefits from the industrial spillover from Nairobi as well as firms manufacturing various items from the natural resources available in the county such as soda ash. From the report, it can be observed that among the top ten counties, Machakos and Kiambu counties are more diversified in terms of growth distribution.


Agriculture remains the largest driver of growth for 22 out of the 47 counties where over half the growth came from the sector (see Figure 2). The sector is almost non-existent in Nairobi and Mombasa where it accounts for less than one per cent of their output. The figures confirm that Kenya’s economy is heavily dependent on agriculture for growth. This requires concerted efforts to aid the sector in contributing to Kenya’s structural transformation.


The sector’s most contribution was observed in Nyandarua where it accounted for over 85 per cent of the county’s growth. This was followed by Elgeyo Marakwet (80 per cent), Bomet (72 per cent) and Narok (67 per cent). However, in terms of the contribution of counties to the overall agricultural output, Nakuru led the rest of the country where the data shows that the county accounted for 10.6 per cent of Kenya’s agricultural output. The county was followed by Nyandarua (7.4 per cent), Kiambu (4.7 per cent) and Elgeyo Marakwet (4.5 per cent).


The manufacturing sector did not drive growth in most counties. As the report shows, manufacturing activities are in Nairobi, Machakos, Mombasa, Kisumu and Kiambu counties where the sector accounted for 12-25 per cent of growth (see Figure 3). In 24 of the 47 counties, manufacturing accounted for less than one per cent of their growth. This is a serious indictment on Kenya’s industrialisation policy and shows how bad the sector has regressed over the years.

The data shows that Nairobi contributes the most to Kenya’s manufacturing output (57.9 per cent). This is a much higher contribution than the rest of the counties. Kiambu follows a distant second with a contribution of 7.7 per cent and Mombasa with a contribution of 7.3 per cent is the third highest contributor to Kenya’s manufacturing output. These figures suggest that the manufacturing sector is disproportionately in favour of Nairobi county.


The services sector drove the growth of most counties (see Figure 4). It contributed the most to the growth of Mombasa county (73.8 per cent) followed by Kajiado (69 per cent), Isiolo (67.8 per cent) and Nairobi (62.8 per cent). Mombasa’s growth in the services sector is due to the dominance of services such as transport and storage, construction, wholesale and retail as well as accommodation and food services.

The report shows that Nairobi dominates the output in the services sector with 26.6 per cent of service output being from Nairobi County. With Nairobi County hosting the capital city and being a business centre that connects foreign travel destinations in Africa, it gets the lion’s share of the services sector output. This is followed by Mombasa county (6.9 per cent), Nakuru county (5.2 per cent) and Kiambu county (5.1 per cent).

Fredrick Ombako21 Posts

Fredrick Ombako is a research consultant at ResearchPro Solutions and Director at Bukas Accountancy & Consulting Limited. He consults mostly for NGOs and county governments by conducting research studies, Monitoring & Evaluation, and Project Management. You may reach him on 0721977108


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