Kenya and the European Union (EU) have renewed their commitment to a stronger relationship that will enhance trade, support businesses and growth of their economies.
This came after President Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday hosted a business dialogue meeting with the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA), the delegation of the European Union in Kenya and the European Business Council (EBC) at State House Nairobi.
On the side-lines of this meeting, President Kenyatta also met with ambassadors from the European Union countries to discuss trade related matters.
Besides fostering the relationship between the private sector in Kenya and their counterparts from the EU operating in Kenya, the meeting aimed at seeking investment commitments from the private sector in Big Four agenda and the Blue Economy sector, forging a formal dialogue engagement between KEPSA, EBC and the government of Kenya.
The business dialogue meeting between KEPSA and EBC was conducted in two sessions. The first session was a brainstorming session chaired by Kenya’s Industry, Trade and Cooperatives Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya.
The second session was chaired by President Kenyatta and attended by the European Union Ambassadors where by key investments in the country by both KEPSA and EBC members were announced.
KEPSA CEO Carole Kariuki who made a presentation on the opportunities in Big Four and Blue Economy emphasised on the need for the private sector “to identify specific opportunities and make commitments in order to spur economic transformation for job and wealth creation.”
KEPSA Chairman Nik Nesbitt, in his presentation took note of the “need to sustain talks and vigour on continuous improvement of the business environment, to ensure a level playing field for all the players in the economy.”
During the forum, CS Munya said the government is keen to ensure growth of investments and creation of jobs, which will be achieved through a number of initiatives.
They include stepping up bilateral efforts to address Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) and the Cabinet approval of the National Investment Policy that awaits gazettement and implementation.
The policy will create a framework for investment in Kenya and will be enjoined with amendments of the law on definition of the local content to include all companies that operate in Kenya regardless of the share of local ownership.
The CS has proposed for a quarterly dialogue for the KEPSA–EU Business Council meeting with the government with an initial working meeting in two weeks.
President Kenyatta’s meeting with the ambassadors focused on the areas Kenya can improve to facilitate business.
Speaking at the meeting, the President assured the private sector of his government’s commitment on improving ease of doing business and reducing the cost of doing business in Kenya.
He re-assured the private sector of his continued efforts and focus on “scaling-up regional programmes and open up markets for Kenya products.”
“All businesses in Kenya need to have a level playing field regardless of whether local or international,” President Kenyatta noted, adding that “a conducive business environment should lead to commitment and in turn transformation the agenda of the country.”
The President observed that his government will continue promoting good business practices and will not relent the fight on corruption. The business environment should be transparent and fair, President Kenyatta said.
Corruption in government has been driven by late payment to suppliers, according to the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI), where suppliers have been forced to bribe to get paid.
Meanwhile, President Kenyatta has recommended the EU Business Council to join KEPSA so that they can be part of the quarterly Presidential Round Table meetings which he holds with private sector under the leadership of KEPSA.
The President has applauded the investment commitment made by the private sector, saying he hopes for more investment in Kenya.