Starting a Company
Registering a company in Kenya has been streamlined in recent years, and can now be started online. Create an account with eCitizen (ecitizen.go.ke) and apply to register the name of the company, company directors and shareholders, company address and capital holdings. You’ll also need a PIN number from the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), which you can get at kra.go.ke, and a Memorandum and Articles
of Association for your company. You’re also required to register with the National Social Security Fund (nssf.or.ke) and the NHIF (nhif.or.ke). Finally, deliver the printed application forms, proof of payment and supporting documents to the Business Registration Department or mail them to the Registrar of Companies. Limited liability partnerships are still registered manually at the company registry. You should also register with the Kenya Investment Authority (invest.go.ke), where, depending on the business activities of your company, you can get Special Economic Zone or Export Processing Zone licenses. Also register at the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (kenyachamber.or.ke) and with Nairobi City Council (nairobi.go.ke), through which you can access various services including business permits, county fees, food handling certificates and city parking. Note that the Nairobi Metropolitan Area covers a much larger area than Nairobi City Council, covering Kiambu Country, Kajiado County, Machakos County, Muranga County and Nairobi City County.
Opening a Bank Account
Opening a bank account in Kenya is easy if you have a work permit, resident visa or dependent pass. Just show your passport with the relevant stamp and the bank teller will open an account for you. There are plenty of local and international banks in Nairobi, and ATMs that accept cards from most banks are spread throughout the city. Most major businesses including hotels, shops, restaurants and bars accept local and international credit and debit cards. Digital payment through M-Pesa is accepted by almost everyone, including roadside kiosks, taxi drivers and government services, and is the preferred system of payment in Kenya. To access M-Pesa, you’ll need a Safaricom SIM card, available at all Safaricom shops, where you’ll need to show your ID or passport. The Safaricom representative will show you how to set up the app and use the service.
Taxation is complicated in Kenya, and a local accountant is invaluable. See icpak.com/cpa-directory for a list of firms. Both residents and nonresidents are subject to income tax, with tax-rate brackets from 10 percent for those earning less than KSh 288,000 ($2,800) to 25 percent for those earning more than KSh 688,000 ($6,600), with personal allowances. You’ll need a PIN from the KRA, which you can get at kra.go.ke, and are required to file an annual return by June 30 the following year. Employers are required to deduct Pay As You Earn (PAYE) from their employees and remit it to the KRA. Certain income is liable for withholding tax, which must be deducted at the source. Corporation tax is levied annually on limited companies, trusts and cooperatives. Value Added Tax is 16 percent.
Phone and Internet
Safaricom, Airtel, Telkom Kenya (formerly Orange) and Faiba4G are Kenya’s mobile phone network providers. Vodafone-affiliated Safaricom is the most popular, holding a 75 percent market share. The company’s mobile money app, M-Pesa, has become Kenya’s preferred payment method. Airtel offers a similar app, which is also widely accepted. SIM cards for all networks are available from their shops, which you’ll see all over the city. Data bundles are the most affordable way to access the internet from your phone, but voice and SMS bundles are also available. Internet service providers are Safaricom, Airtel, Telkom Kenya, Zuku and Faiba. All have a range of packages at different prices depending on speed, portability and more. For a home package, expect to pay between KSh 2,500 ($24) and KSh 6,000 ($58) per month, while a business package can cost anywhere from KSh 8,000 ($77) to KSh 50,000 ($480). Laptop dongles are also available for those who like to work on the move.
Main photo by Mustafa Omar