Counties and County Government in Kenya

The Kenya Constitution has introduced two levels of government, the national government and the County government, which are distinct and interdependent. Kenya will have 47 counties to be headed by governors.

The national government will ensure reasonable access to its services in all parts of the country. The two levels will conduct their affairs mutually on the basis of consultation and cooperation.

As contained in the Constitution, the objects of devolution are:

  1. To promote democratic and accountable exercise of power;
  2. To foster national unity by recognising diversity;
  3. To give powers of self –  governance to the people and enhance the participation of the people in the exercise of the powers of the State and in making decisions affecting them;
  4. To recognise the right of communities to manage their own affairs and to further their development;
  5. To protect and promote the interests and rights of minorities and marginalised communities;
  6. To promote social and economic development and the provision of proximate, easily accessible services throughout Kenya;
  7. To ensure equitable sharing of national and local resources throughout Kenya;
  8. (h) To facilitate the decentralization of State organs, their functions and services, from the capital of Kenya; and
  9. (i) To enhance checks and balances and the separation of powers.

County Assemblies in Kenya

Each of the 47 counties will have a County Assembly whose members are elected directly by the registered voters of the wards, each ward constituting a single member constituency, on the same day as the General Election of Members of Parliament.

The County Assembly will have a speaker elected from among persons who are not members of the assembly.

The executive authority of the county is vested in, and exercised by, a county executive committee, which consists of the county governor and the deputy county governor; and members appointed by the county governor, with the approval of the assembly, from among persons who are not members of the assembly. The county governor and deputy are elected directly.

The national government has the mandate to perform its functions and exercise its powers in a manner that respects the functional and institutional integrity of government at the other level, and respects the constitutional status and institutions of  government.

Counties Revenue Funds

With the county framework, the Constitution allows for the establishment of a Revenue Fund for each county government, into which shall be paid all money raised or received by or on behalf of the county government, except money reasonably excluded by an Act of Parliament. The money may be withdrawn from the Revenue Fund of a county government only as authorized by an appropriation by legislation of the county but should be approved by the Controller of Budget.

Revenue – raising powers

Only the national government may impose income tax, value added tax, customs duties and other duties on import and export goods and excise tax.

On their side, the counties may impose property rates, entertainment taxes and any other tax that they are authorised to impose by an Act of Parliament. The national and county governments may impose charges for services.

However, it is important to note that the taxation and other revenue – raising powers of a county shall not be exercised in a way that prejudices national economic policies, economic activities across county boundaries or the national mobility of goods, services, capital or labour.

Revenue allocation among counties in Kenya

The Commission on Revenue Allocation will make recommendations concerning the basis for the equitable sharing of revenue raised by the national government, between the national and county governments and among the county governments.

According to the Constitution, for every financial year the equitable share of the revenue raised nationally that is allocated to county governments shall be not less than 15 per cent of all revenue collected by the national government.

Currently at Kshs1.5 trillion ($17.65 billion), this means the counties will share about Kshs 203 billion ($2.4 billion).

The Commission on Revenue Allocation has devised a formula of allocating this revenue, which is before Parliament.

According to this formula, counties will receive 45 per cent of this cash based on their population, 20 per cent on poverty and eight per cent on geographical size. In addition, all counties will equally share 25 per cent of the revenues.

Counties that have been marginalised for decades also have an equalisation fund, which will seek to hasten their development so they catch up with the rest.

The Constitution divides the country into 47 counties based on the delineation of administrative districts as created under the Provinces and Districts Act of 1992.

Here is a list of the 47 counties in Kenya and a link to the counties website

  1. Baringo County
  2. Baringo County
  3. Bomet County
  4. Bungoma County
  5. Busia County
  6. Elgeyo Marakwet County
  7. Embu County
  8. Garissa County
  9. Homa Bay County
  10. Isiolo County
  11. Kajiado County
  12. Kakamega County
  13. Kericho County
  14. Kiambu County
  15. Kilifi County
  16. Kirinyaga County
  17. Kisii County
  18. Kisumu County
  19. Kitui County
  20. Kwale County
  21. Laikipia County
  22. Lamu County
  23. Machakos County
  24. Makueni County
  25. Mandera County
  26. Meru County
  27. Migori County
  28. Marsabit County
  29. Mombasa County
  30. Muranga County
  31. Nairobi County
  32. Nakuru County
  33. Nandi County
  34. Narok County
  35. Nyamira County
  36. Nyandarua County
  37. Nyeri County
  38. Samburu County
  39. Siaya County
  40. Taita Taveta County
  41. Tana River County
  42. Tharaka Nithi County
  43. Trans Nzoia County
  44. Turkana County
  45. Uasin Gishu County
  46. Vihiga County
  47. Wajir County
  48. West Pokot County

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