25% higher GDP after Rebasing

Kenya’s gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated to be 25% bigger after the authorities changed the base calculation year to 2009 from 2001, sending the east African nation into the top 10 of Africa’s largest economies. Economic output was calculated to be 4.76 trillion shillings ($53.3bn) in 2013 after rebasing, up from 3.8 trillion shillings ($42.6bn), Minister for Devolution and Planning, Anne Waiguru, told a news conference yesterday.

Growth in 2013 was calculated to have been 5.7% after rebasing, up from the previous estimate of 4.7%. The rebasing exercise means debt levels fall as a proportion of GDP, a closely watched ratio. This could give the government some leeway for more borrowing to help finance its plans to build new transport links and repair creaking infrastructure.

But revising the estimated size of GDP does not change Kenya’s ability to repay additional loans nor does it mean it has more income to spend on development in a nation where many live in villages connected by dirt roads and without power.

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