You have embarked on a long train ride in Africa. The train is in bad shape, the ride is bumpy and breakdowns frequent. You wonder when you will arrive at destination or if you ever will. But after a tortuous first half of the trip, the train is starting to gain speed. There are still a number of unnecessary stops but the destination is now in sight and passengers are becoming upbeat. Just as the train is about to enter the station you are overtaken by three trains, which had been accelerating even faster.
This train could be Kenya in East Africa’s race to Middle Income. The country remains the richest in East Africa and with almost US$ 800 income per capita is the closest to meeting the international Middle Income threshold of US$ 1000. But its EAC partners Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania are catching up fast.
Kenya could be the first EAC country to reach Middle Income status by 2020, but only if it achieves its potential of about 6 percent uninterrupted economic growth. However, if Kenya’s economy only grows at 3.7 percent (the average of the last decade), the train will likely be overtaken by Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda in the next ten years. Middle income status would still be possible, but only by 2037.