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ABSTRACT The transmission networks of SARS-CoV-2 in sub-Saharan Africa remain poorly understood. We analyzed 684 genomes from samples collected across six counties in coastal Kenya during the first two waves (March 2020 -February 2021). Up to 32 Pango lineages were detected in the local sample with six accounting for 88.0% of the sequenced infections: B.1 (60.4%), B.1.1 (8.9%), B.1.549 (7.9%), B.1.530 (6.4%), N.8 (4.4%) and A (3.1%). In a contemporaneous global sample, 571 lineages were identified, 247 for Africa and 88 for East Africa. We detected 262 location transition events comprising: 64 viral imports into Coastal Kenya; 26 viral exports from coastal Kenya; and 172 inter-county import/export events. Most international viral imports (61%) and exports (88%) occurred through Mombasa, a key coastal touristic and commercial center; and many occurred prior to June 2020, when stringent local COVID-19 restriction measures were enforced. After this period, local transmission dominated, and distinct local phylogenies were seen. Our analysis supports moving control strategies from a focus on international travel to local transmission.

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