Key questions this article answers:

  • Why was the Kenya-Somalia border closed and what has been the impact of terrorism on Kenya’s tourism industry?
  • What are the chances of reopening the border in light of increased attacks?

Later this month, Kenya will mark ten years since the
Westgate Mall terrorist attack in Nairobi. 

That attack, which claimed 71 lives and injured over 150 others, was carried out by Al-Shabaab, a terrorist organisation operating in Somalia that has been active since 2006. 

Addressing Al-Shabaab has been one of the defining challenges for Kenya over the last 15 years, to the extent that the Kenyan border with Somalia has been closed since 2011. This situation shows how violence in a neighbouring country can cause severe complications for another’s internal security and economy.


In May 2023, there was an announcement by both governments that the closed border would be reopened. However, that decision was ultimately delayed due to a resurgence of terrorist attacks near the border. This article will look at the background to this security challenge, the impact of terrorism on Kenya’s crucial tourism industry, and the considerations influencing the reopening of the border in the immediate term. 

Let us begin in 1991 when it all began with the collapse of the Siad Barre regime in Somalia.