Kenya is putting many thousands of shillings in the pockets of those at the bottom end of the pay scale than any of her counterparts in East Africa – Tanzania and Uganda. It has a higher minimum wage.

A minimum wage is the minimum amount of remuneration that an employer is required to pay wage earners for the work performed during a given period, which cannot be reduced by a collective agreement or an individual contract, the International Labour Organization defines.

A fairer minimum wage that slightly matches or exceeds the living costs increases the work productivity of low-income individuals, promotes job satisfaction, and improves their standard of living as an enabler of moving out of poverty.

It also has a demonstrably positive overall impact on the economy because its consequent stimulation of consumer demand and the resultant robust spending help boost businesses and job growth. This can be the longest-searched answer to why Kenya has the strongest gross domestic product (GDP) of $110.3 billion than Tanzania and Uganda combined.

Kenya has been gradually adjusting its minimum wage proportionately to the soaring median wages to cushion employees in the lowest tier from the cost of living crisis and to fix income inequality. According to the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, the national minimum wage in Kenya is Ksh15,201.65 per month for lower-paid workers like cleaners, sweepers, gardeners, watchmen (security guards), and domestic servants.

This figure sharply differs from the wage floors of the same group in Tanzania, which gets a monthly minimum of Tsh120,000 (roughly Ksh7,000), and in Uganda, Ush6,000.

Uganda’s outdated subminimum wage has never been legally reviewed since 1984, leading to the overexploitation of workers in the job space and a further increase in internal poverty levels.

The minimum wage in Kenya depends on occupation, sector, and location; for instance, The lowest monthly salary that loggers, miners, cooks, waiters, waitresses, bartenders, and cooks can receive in the cities of Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, and Nakuru is Ksh16,417.90, more than those in similar professions but different localities who receive Ksh9,370.30.

In the Regulation of Wages Amendment, implemented in May 2022, the minimum wage of tailors and drivers is Ksh25,804.15, Ksh34,302.75 for cashiers, and between Ksh20,517.85 and Ksh34,302.75 for ungraded artisans to those in Grade III.

Workers in the Kenyan private sector earn more than either Tanzania or Uganda, who earn a monthly payment of about Tsh400,000 (Ksh23,000 on average) and Ush270,000 (slightly over Ksh10,000), respectively. They make a median of Ksh30,000 every month.