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Top 5 largest economies in East Africa ranked

In this article, we explore the vibrant economic landscape of East Africa, where a dynamic interplay of factors has propelled specific nations to the forefront of the region's economic growth.

Top 5 largest economies in East Africa
  • This article explores East Africa's economic landscape and the role of private capital.
  • Kenya dominates, accounting for 69% of transactions and 74% of deal values.
  • Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Rwanda also play key roles in the region's economic growth.

We draw upon data from the East Africa Venture Capital Association (EAVCA) report to understand how private capital has been instrumental in driving the growth of pioneering enterprises, reshaping industries, and charting new paths for the future in East Africa.

According to the report, Kenya traditionally dominates the region's private capital landscape, accounting for 69% of all transactions, while Uganda, Tanzania, and Ethiopia each make up 6% and Rwanda 5%. The remaining deals are multi-country transactions.

Kenya's dominance extends to deal values, with the country representing 74% of the total disclosed deal value. Uganda and Ethiopia follow with 8% and 7%, respectively, while Rwanda attracts 5% of the flows, with the rest being multi-country transactions.

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In total, there have been 427 investments worth approximately USD 7.3 billion and 51 exits valued at USD 1.3 billion disclosed.

1. Kenya

Kenya is the region's economic epicentre, boasting a diverse economy with lower susceptibility to commodity risks than its African counterparts. With a sizable market, robust commercial legal framework, and a skilled workforce, Kenya is a magnet for private equity and DFI investments. Nairobi also serves as the regional headquarters for many firms operating in the region.

2. Uganda

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Uganda solidifies its position as a key player, accounting for 12% of investments. Its strategic location and growing market make it an attractive destination for investors, especially in the financial services and agriculture sectors.

3. Tanzania

Tanzania's 6% share highlights its emergence as a promising private equity and venture capital market. Recent shifts in government policies are enhancing its attractiveness to investors. Notably, investments in agriculture, natural resources, infrastructure, tourism, and the financial sector have gained momentum.

4. Ethiopia

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With its rapidly growing economy and extensive market, Ethiopia is gaining investor attention. Political instability and currency regulations have slowed investments, but its potential remains high.

5. Rwanda

Although Rwanda has a smaller market, it excels in the realm of venture capital. It has become a hotspot for innovative startups and smaller investments, distinguishing itself in the East African landscape.

Other East African countries collectively account for a 2% share. While they may not be in the spotlight, they enrich the diversity and dynamism of the East African investment landscape.

Country Share of Investments (2013-2023)
Kenya 69%
Uganda 12%
Tanzania 6%
Ethiopia 6%
Rwanda 5%
Other 2%

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