The Republic of Kenya is the largest economy in the eastern and central portion of the African continent, and the recovery of commercial activities has spurred more interest in forex trading.

Significant political and economic reforms have been made in Kenya over the past decade which have led to a period of sustained growth. The Kenyan economy averaged 4.8% GDP growth per year between 2015 and 2019 which has reduced poverty in the country significantly – down from 36.5% in 2005 to 27.2% in 2019.

As Kenya’s economic progress continues, the presence of a burgeoning middle class with capital to invest has also increased the popularity of trading currency pairs in the foreign exchange market. The number of forex traders in the country currently exceeds 100,000, an increase of more than 10% over the estimated figure of 90,000 from a few years back.

Forex Trading In Kenya

Residents of Kenya have recognised the income potential of forex trading, but the activity has also offered an excellent way to hedge against the depreciation of the Kenyan Shilling (KES). Three years ago, the KES traded at roughly 107 units to a single USD; today, it trades at 141 to the dollar. Forex traders going long on the USD would have benefited handsomely in Kenya.

Although the Kenyan Shilling has generally weakened against the US Dollar in recent years, it remains one of the most stable currencies in east Africa and often circulates in neighbouring Sudan and Somalia.

According to statistics published by the World Bank, the economy in Kenya has continued to recover from the Covid-19 global pandemic and, with a population of 544m+ and a GDP that sits above US$113bn, the country’s growth forecast for the remainder of the decade looks stable and robust.

In this article, you will learn about forex trading in Kenya, the primary regulator with oversight responsibility, the guiding regulations for Kenyan residents, and how to begin your forex trading experience. Lastly, if you are a beginner or a veteran that wishes to choose one of the best forex brokers in Kenya to partner with you on your journey, we provide a list of the top-of-the-line brokers to simplify your task.

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Is it Legal to Trade Forex in Kenya?

Trading foreign currency pairs is legal in Kenya. Approximately 45% of the population in the country is considered middle class and growing. With such an underpinning of wealth, it is no wonder that forex trading is a popular activity. These demographics also favour younger citizens, who are very acquainted with the Internet and have been looking for other income possibilities following the advent of Covid-19.

A cadre of local forex brokers have obtained the necessary licenses to do business, but Kenyan traders are not restricted to this group. They may also choose from a broad selection of foreign-based brokers, but caution is advised. Retail forex trading has come a long way in the past two decades, but cross-border fraud is still a problem that regulators and law enforcement officials find challenging to eliminate. The best way to avoid a scam is to choose a respected broker that is heavily regulated.

Forex Regulation in Kenya

The Capital Markets Authority (CMA) is the regulatory agency in Kenya that oversees the retail forex trading market and the brokers. It is an independent organisation, but it works closely with the Central Bank of Kenya to keep consumers attuned to the risks involved and to attack fraud and shady business practices. As recently as 2021, the CMA shut down the in-country solicitations of 40 unlicensed brokers operating in foreign locales.

Although there may be less than a dozen brokers locally licensed by Kenyan regulators, residents of the country are not prohibited from dealing with a foreign-based broker as long as it accepts citizens of Kenya. Regulatory standards may be less restrictive than those in Europe or the US. However, the local regulator advises local forex traders to choose a brokerage that is licensed locally, or that complies with the regulations of a well-respected agency in a foreign jurisdiction.

How to Start Forex Trading in Kenya

Trading forex is a risky business. If you are a beginner in this arena, it is highly recommended that you follow the following five steps before ever risking one Kenyan Shilling in the market:

  1. Learn about Forex: Forex trading has its own language and tools. Read up on charts, trading strategies, technical indicators, how to select a broker and risk management principles. That initial preparation is the key to success.
  2. Choose a broker: You will want a safe and secure broker that you trust, and there is a process that will ensure a favourable outcome. Our list below is a first step.
  3. Open an account: Your broker will help you with this and provide economical ways to fund your account.
  4. Practice and develop a strategy: Use a broker’s demo system to practice how to trade and develop a step-by-step strategy. Developing a strategy is paramount for success.
  5. Begin trading in the market: Start with small amounts to gain confidence and have fun.

The Best Forex Brokers in Kenya

Forex trading is popular in Kenya, and the brokerage community has recognised this fact. Many brokers advertise their services to Kenyans, but while a few are local or from nearby regions, several are in exotic locales with little or no regulatory oversight. It is always best to choose a broker that is highly regulated, offers the services that you want, and has established a proven track record for performing at the highest level. The task of choosing the right forex broker might seem overwhelming at first, but here is a list of our very best ones for your review:

Broker Features Regulator Platforms Next Step
Number One Broker Blackbull LogoYour capital is at risk Founded: 2014
  • User-friendly platform with great trade-analysis tools
  • Leverage Up To 1:500
  • Spreads as low as 0.00 pips
  • Quality trade execution thanks to high-spec IT infrastructure
  • $0 minimum account opening balance
  • 26,000 tradeable instruments
  • Not available in all jurisdictions
  • Regulatory infrastructure
tickmill_logo-173% of retail CFD accounts lose money Founded: 2014
73% of retail C...
  • Well regulated
  • Ultra-fast and high leverage trading
  • Spreads as low as 0.0 pips
  • Comprehensive research tools
  • Relatively limited number of markets
  • Does not accept US traders
Your capital is at risk Founded: 2006
Europe* CFDs ar...
  • Multi-asset broker offering a wide variety of markets
  • Strong regulatory framework
  • Innovative risk management tools
  • Choice of market-leading platforms
  • Wide spreads on some markets
  • Expiry date on Demo Accounts
ASIC, FSA, FSB, MiFID MetaTrader4, Sirix, AvaOptions, AvaTrader, Mirror Trader
Between 74-89% of CFD traders lose Founded: 2010
Between 74-89 % of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs
  • Low trading costs
  • Great market flow
  • Research and analysis which helps spot trades
  • Wide range of Copy and Social Trading options
  • Limited range of non-forex markets
ASIC, FCA MetaTrader 4, MetaTrader 5, cTrader
eToro Logo77% of CFD traders lose Founded: 2007
77 % of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work, and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.
  • Social and Copy Trading Platform
  • Beginner Friendly
  • Risk-free Demo Account
  • Top-tier regulation
  • Limited means of raising queries
  • Withdrawal process isn’t really ‘client-focused’
ASIC, CySEC, FCA eToro Platform
XM LogoYour capital is at risk Founded: 2009, 2015, 2017
  • Low minimum deposit
  • Super- tight bid-offer spreads
  • Impressive trading platforms
  • Tier-1 regulators
  • Difficult to contact tech support
  • No Crypto
ASIC, CySEC, IFSC MT4 Terminal, MT4 for Mac, Web Trader, iPhone/iPad Trader, Droid Trader, Mobile Trader, MT5
FxPro LogoYour capital is at risk Founded: 2006
  • Very well regulated
  • Comprehensive education section
  • Fantastic customer service
  • No cryptocurrencies
  • Fees could be more competetive
CySEC, DFSA, FCA, FSB, SIA MetaTrader4, MetaTrader5, cTrader, FxPro Edge (Beta)

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    The popularity of forex trading is alive and prospering in Kenya under the watchful eye of the CMA. If you are a beginner, take the time to gain awareness of the activity and how to choose the best broker to suit your needs. Free demo accounts give you an excellent opportunity to evaluate your candidates and to practice trading before you risk any money. To select a broker you can trust with your money that will provide an excellent trading experience, then review the list presented above. Each of those brokers is worthy of your consideration.