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Kenya -- Demography

The population of Kenya is estimated at 28,337,071 (July 1998) [1] The Kenyan government conducts a full census every ten years. The first official census since independence was conducted in April 1969. It put the nation's population at 10,942,705. When the next census was undertaken in August 1979, the figure had risen to 15,327,061 (allowing for an estimated under-enumeration of 5%). According to 1989 official estimates, the total population had climbed to 21.4 million, a figure that yields an annual growth rate of 3.3%, down from 4.1% ten years earlier. The UN has estimated Kenya's population in mid-1996 at 31.8m, and the World Bank has forecast the nation's average demographic growth in 1993-2000 at 2.5%. In recent years, the average family size has decreased from 6.7 children per woman in 1989 to 5.4 in 1993, according to a report by the Ministry of Training, Technology and Research. An important factor in this decline is an increase in the number of deaths due to AIDS.

The 1989 census did not provide a breakdown of the population by national origin, so the numbers of non-Africans is unknown. Estimates from a decade earlier put the Asian population at 59,000, a significant drop from 139,000 in 1969. During the 1970s many Asians emigrated, mainly to the UK. Today, the Asian population has stabilized. The most recent census (taken in 1989, but released only in March 1994) is the first to record the ethnic composition of the population, though its findings are contested on several grounds (see also the Kenya "Ethnicity" section).

There are few reliable data on total employment levels in Kenya due to difficulties in assessing the informal sector. In a 1994-96 Development Plan, the Ministry of Planning and National Development estimated that 2.24m Kenyans were employed (in 1995) in the urban and rural informal sectors. In 1993, 6.54m Kenyans were estimated to be employed in some capacity, including part-time, in rural areas. The Development Plan projected that total employment would increase from 8.78m in 1993 to 10.25m in 1996, with 75% of new jobs in rural areas.[2]

Demographic Statistics




Population distribution by age:







75 and over0.6

Source: Kurian, George Thomas 1992. Encyclopedia of the Third World, fourth edition, volume III, Facts on File: New York, N.Y

Other demographic indicators, 1998 estimates

Population growth rate1.71%

Birth rate per 1,00031.68

Death rate per 1,00014.19

Sex Ratio (Males/Females)

At birth1.03

Under 151.02


over 650.78

Infant mortality rate per 1,000 births59.38

Total fertility rate 4.07 children born per woman

Source: CIA World Fact Book, 1998.

[1] CIA World Fact Book,1998 [2] The Economist Intelligence Unit, 1998, Country Profile. Kenya, The Unit: London, pp.17-18.

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