Swiss Confederation President, Alain Berset who is touring Kenya has held bilateral talks with Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta in a move that is meant to increase Swiss investments in Kenya, beyond efforts to fight corruption. The two Heads of State joined their respective delegations for bilateral talks focused on a wide array of issues aimed at deepening existing partnerships between the two nations.
The two countries have over the years partnered in areas of trade, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, the development of democratic ideals, peace, and humanitarian interventions. Kenya is among Switzerland’s five most important trade partners south of the Sahara; bilateral trade has doubled since 2005. While Switzerland has been served from London in recent years, President Kenyatta announced that Kenya plans to open an embassy in Bern in 2018.
The Swiss delegation explained that Swiss firms were following with great interest the steps taken by Kenya to improve the investment climate in numerous sectors. In recent years, Swiss companies especially those in the pharmaceutical sector have shown increased interest in the Kenyan market.
We look at investments opportunities between Switzerland and Kenya
- Blockchain and Fintech
Blockchain has exited markets around the world but it is still looked with suspicion. Switzerland ranks first among the top ten nations in Europe to provide amiable conditions for blockchain and crypto currencies. Only recently, the Swiss economics minister Johann Schneider-Ammann has officially announced plans to make Switzerland the “Blockchain Capital of the World”. The country’s strong banking system, low taxes, innovative capacity, business-friendly environment, and high education rate provide all the ingredients to make Switzerland the “Silicon Valley” of crypto-currencies. The heart of the country’s crypto innovation is found in the town of Zug, the so-called Crypto Valley.
Kenya on its part is developing into the leading fintech capital of Africa. It has also developed a taskforce to explore and invest in blockchain technologies, Artificial Intelligence and other relevant technologies. On the cyber-streets, crypto-currencies are gaining popularity in Kenya. Read more
- Chemical and Pharmaceutical
In 2014, the pharmaceutical industry produces more than a third of Switzerland’s entire exports. The value creation in the pharmaceutical industry has continued to increase in Switzerland over the past decade. The presence of highly qualified scientists and pharmaceutical talent from the world’s leading universities make a significant contribution towards developing new medicines. Some of the leading companies include Novartis (Sandoz), Hoffmann-La Roche, Basilea Pharmaceutica, Actelion, and Straumann.
Kenya gets its pharma products mainly from India and is always on the lookout of effective and affordable remedies for its population. Healthcare is one of the pillars of Uhuru Kenyatta’s four point agenda.
- Biotechnology, life sciences and Medical technologies
Switzerland is one of the strongest biotechnology locations in Europe. Important innovations and the close cooperation between research and development form the basis for the exporting success of more than 250 resident biotech companies. First-class research facilities, leading SMEs and strong multi-national companies form a network that ensures healthy growth and attracts researchers and capital from all over the world. This is evident in the constantly increasing number of biotechnology patents in Switzerland.
Kenya is developing is young biotechnology industry. However, nascent biotech laws and political bickering has slowed the uptake of genetic engineering and other life technologies.
- The mechanical, electrical and metal industry (MEM industry)
With over 330,000 employees, the Swiss mechanical, electrical and metal industry (MEM) is the largest industrial employer in Switzerland. Due to the high standards in terms of quality, precision, safety and reliability, the sector remains internationally competitive despite the strong Swiss franc. Almost 80% of products are exported mainly to Europe but the Swiss market is eying new markets in Africa. Globally, Switzerland therefore occupies second place for exporting of machines per capita.
Kenya is a net importer of mechanical and electrical machinery mainly from Japan, China, Britain and Germany. With Swiss machines available and Kenya’s push for manufacturing this could be a key area of collaboration.
- Financial services
Switzerland is one of the world’s leading financial centers, whether in asset management, insurance, or as a trading platform for commodities. Thanks to the high density of international and local financial service providers, companies from other industries have access to a sophisticated liquid capital market and modern financial infrastructure. There is also a broad range of project financing and investment consulting services on offer. Switzerland, being an attractive trading center, is especially interesting for companies from the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical technology industries. The SIX Swiss Exchange is the most important Life Sciences stock exchange in Europe, followed by the LSE Group and NYSE Euronext.
Kenya financial sector has much to learn from their swiss counterparts. However, being a key economic driver for east Africa, Kenya has an industry to take care of. Nairobi Securities Exchange is an intersection of different sectors with various service sectors listed in the bourse.