The early-April siege at Kenya’s Garissa University College left almost 150 people dead and many injured. Non-Muslim students were targeted, while Muslim hostages were released by the al-Shabaab Mujahideen. Since the 2013 Westgate shopping centre drama, al-Shabaab once more conducted a large-scale attack. Again, it was claimed as retaliation for Kenya’s military participation in the fight against al-Shabaab in Somalia since 2011, paradoxically with the purpose of containing insecurity and protecting its nascent economic interests in bordering northern Kenya.

Impact on country risk

The group’s attacks are likely to continue to prioritise Christian, Western and government targets in pre-dominantly Muslim areas where pre-existing communal rivalries can be roused-up. Together with the tactic of dividing Muslims from Christians and strictly targeting non-Muslims, this is directly aimed at provoking sectarian unrest and polarisation in Kenya. Consequently, the north-eastern region, the Coast Province and the Somalia border, Mombasa and Nairobi will remain vulnerable to future attacks. Several western countries have launched negative travel advice for different parts of Kenya, threatening to affect the all-important tourism proceeds and employment base. As a result, Kenya’s economic growth performance and government finances are expected to be affected by lower travel revenues and higher security spending. Credendo Group is likely to downgrade Kenya in the war risk classification, which incorporates terrorism risk indicators, from category 4 to 5 out of 7.

Analyst: Louise Van Cauwenbergh, l.vancauwenbergh@credendogroup.com