The 26-year-old – who started on the 10th hole – was one under par when he came round to the third and fourth, only to drop three shots with a double bogey and a bogey.
However, he regained his composure to pick up shots on the fifth, sixth and ninth – his last – to sit on one under par after the opening round at Karen Country Club in Nairobi.
Staffordshire’s Richard Mansell is on one-over after an up-and-down day that saw him sink five birdies, but also four bogeys and one double bogey.
France’s Benjamin Herbert made a surge late in the day to lead overnight on seven-under.
A group of seven players – including England’s Sam Horsfield and Scottish duo Calum Hill and Connor Syme – sit a shot back on six-under.