September 25, 2022



Communities that will determine Kenya’s next president

5 min read

The Kikuyu community has recorded the highest increase in population in the past 10 years, new census data shows.

Despite claims of low birth rates in central Kenya, a breakdown of the population census data tells a different story: the community increased by 1.5 million.

The Luhyas increased by 1.49m), Kalenjins (1.4m), Luos (1.07m), Kambas (700,000), Mijikendas (530,000), Kisiis (490,000), Kenya Somalis (400,000), Maasais (350,000) and Merus (330,000).

The tribal ranking remains more or less the same as in 2009, with the data released yesterday retaining the top 10 communities in terms of population, save for the Turkanas, who have been replaced by the Maasai.

The figures are set to spark debate as the protagonists in the national political leadership President Uhuru Kenyatta, ODM leader Raila Odinga, deputy president William Ruto and former vice-presidents Kalonzo Musyoka and Musalia Mudavadi represent the top most populated tribes in the country.

The number of communities they represent totals 31.06 million, a whopping 65 per cent of the Kenyan population.

In a country where resources, opportunities and political power tend to follow the tribal arithmetic, it means that the major communities will play a key role in the 2022 general election.

President Kenyatta’s Kikuyu community remains the largest with a population of 8.15 million, followed by the Luhya (6.82m), then Kalenjin (6.36m), Luo (5.07m) and Kamba (4.66m).

According to the report, the five least populous tribes are Dahalo (575), Kenyan American (596), Gosha (685), El Molo (1,104) and Konso (1,299).

The report was launched by National Treasury and Planning Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani.

The data had been collected and relayed to a central server in real-time, processed and the results released in two months.

While releasing the results, Kenya National Bureau of Statistics director-general Zachary Mwangi said that people living in rural areas more than double town dwellers. Some 14.8 million Kenyans live in towns while 32.7 million in the rural areas.

These figures increased compared to the 2009 census, where 12.5 million Kenyans lived in urban areas and 26.1 million in rural areas.

“The percentage of urban to total population increased from 24.1 per cent in 2009 to 31.2 per cent in 2019,” said Mr Mwangi.

KNBS has managed to release reports of the 2019 Kenya Population and Housing Census on a record time except for one — a report on political units.

Information touching on boundaries of political units could have helped the country to know the boundaries and population numbers in wards, constituencies and counties, and possibly help in an analysis of registered voters in those political units.

But Friday, Mr Yatani said that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has frustrated efforts in providing information on geopolitical units.

“I am once again appealing to the IEBC to co-operate and be part of this journey. By now, we should have concluded all the reports involving the 2019 census were it not for the frustration by the IEBC, which is yet to provide the required information on political units,” Mr Yatani said.

So far, the KNBS team has released reports on distribution of enumerated population by county and sub-county (Volume I), distribution of population by administrative units (Volume II), distribution of population by single year, sex and administrative units (Volume III) and distribution of population by socio-economic characteristics (Volume IV).

According to the CS, if the IEBC provides the data, then KNBS will release the remaining volume on distribution of population by geopolitical units in the next two weeks.

Friday, IEBC CEO Wafula Chebukati and acting CEO Marjan Hussein did not respond to queries on the issues raised by CS Yatani.

Information on geopolitical units will be of importance during the reviewing of constituency boundaries which IEBC announced will start next month, kicking off what could be its biggest test yet ahead of the 2022 General Election.

The biggest headache will be to decide on the fate of the 26 constituencies that did not meet the population criteria when the last review was done in 2012.

Of the most populous urban centres, Nairobi leads with 4.39 million residents, followed by Mombasa at 1.21 million, Nakuru 590,674, Ruiru 490,120 and Eldoret 475,716.

The top five most densely populated sub-locations are Kware in Nairobi (166,517), Tibwani in Mombasa (114,520), Mlolongo in Machakos (93,075), Tassia in Nairobi (88,874) and Mowlem in Nairobi with 88,039 people.

In the distribution of population by age, Kenyans below 35 years lead at 35.7 million (75.1 per cent), followed by the category of children between zero and 14 years at 18.5 million (39 per cent) and adolescents between 10 and 19 years are 11.6 million (24.5 per cent).

The youth aged between 18 and 34 years are 13.8 million (29 per cent), those between 15 and 64 years (working age) are 27.2 million (57.1 per cent) and the elderly 65 years and above 1.9 million (3.9 per cent).

“The females account for 55.8 per cent of the elderly, compared to 54.8 per cent in 2009,” Mr Kinuthia said.

Compared to the 2009 census, the number of elderly persons increased by 538,220, while that of population of working age increased by close to seven million.

Out of the 26.9 million people aged between 15 and 64 years, 19.7 million are working and of the 13.6 million people aged between 18 and 34, 8.4 million (61.9 per cent) are also working. A whole 1.6 million in the segment of the population “were seeking work or indicated there was no job available,” the report stated.

The report also revealed that 20.7 million Kenyans aged from three years and above owned mobile phones, of which 22.6 per cent used internet and 10.4 per cent used computers.

Christians are the majority in the ranking of religious groups by population, with 85.5 per cent followers. Within the Christians, Protestants have the huge share of 33.4 per cent, followed by Catholics with 20.6 per cent and Evangelical churches with 20.4 per cent.

Muslims accounted for 11 per cent of the population, according to the 2019 census results.

The results also showed that the number of households using electricity as a source of lighting rose from 22.7 per cent in 2009, to 50.4 per cent in 2019. Kenyan households using solar for lighting also rose from 1.6 per cent to 19.3 per cent within the same period.

The numbers were derived from the 47.6 million Kenyans counted in the August 2019 census, which had 23.5 million males and 24 million females. The intersex who were counted for the first time constituted 1,524 people.

In 2009, of the 37 million people counted, 18.67 million were male and female constituted 19.05 million. In both censuses, females formed 50.5 per cent of the population.

The data released Friday was made up of three basic reports namely, Volume II: Distribution of Population by Administrative Units, Volume III: Distribution of Population by Single Year, Sex and Administrative Units and Volume IV: Distribution of Population by Socio-Economic Characteristics.

The first report – distribution of enumerated population by county and sub-county, number of households and household average size – was released in November last year.


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