The Stanbic Bank Kenya Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) jumped to 51.3 in February from 49.8 a month earlier. Readings above 50.0 signal growth, while those below point to a contraction. It is the first time since August that the figure has gone above 50.

"Business activity expanded across the Kenyan private sector ... as a further softening of inflationary pressures supported a fresh increase in new order volumes," Stanbic Bank said in commentary accompanying the survey.

Inflation fell to 6.3% year-on-year in February from 6.9% a month earlier, data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics showed.

"There was a notable expansion ... with output increasing in agriculture, manufacturing, and services. However, construction and wholesale & retail activity slipped," Christopher Legilisho, an economist at Stanbic Bank, said.

(Reporting by George Obulutsa; editing by Christina Fincher)