Kenya eyes US investments in Kenyatta bid


President Uhuru Kenyatta has asked US investors to make Kenya their investment destination of choice in Africa, in the latest of his charm offensives in foreign markts.

The President has said his administration’s Big 4 Agenda, particularly the manufacturing component where the government’s plan is to lift the sector’s contribution to the economy from the current 8.4 per cent of GDP to 15 per cent by 2022, offers limitless investment opportunities for US companies.

READ ALSO:How Kenya plans to accelerate Big 4 Agenda

“The sector (manufacturing) presents major opportunities for local and foreign investors in areas such as agro-processing through value addition in key value chains such as textiles and leather, the maritime sector, construction, iron and steel, oil and gas,” the President said. 

President Kenyatta who spoke at a private sector forum hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce and attended by tens of top executives from leading US multinationals said Kenya is seeking sustainable business partnerships with American corporations.

READ ALSO:How Trump will beat China in Africa

“As we deepen the relationship between Kenya and the United States, it is partnerships with corporations such as the ones you represent, which drive and sustain the relationship,” the President told the executives led by Scott Eisner, President of the US-Africa Business Center who is also the Senior Vice President of the US Chamber of Commerce. 

Alongside manufacturing, the President said food and nutrition security, affordable housing and Universal Health Coverage (UHC) are other priority sectors with huge investment potential. 

READ:Why President Kenyatta’s Big Four is under threat

President Kenyatta said his administration’s  target of constructing 500,000 affordable housing units is on course and rallied the American companies to channel their resources into the program. 

“More than half of the funding for this program (housing) will be raised from private sector sources. We will also be seeking investments in alternative building materials and technologies,” he said. 

On UHC, the President called for partnerships especially in the supply of  specialized medical equipment, establishment of pharmaceutical companies, upgrading and management of health facilities, and implementation of innovative health financing options. 

Besides the four priority areas, the President invited the investors to explore opportunities in ICTs, infrastructure, tourism and the blue economy. 

He advised the American business community to pay particular attention to Kenya’s financial sector where the country is a renown for its world class mobile money solutions. 

“The digital finance ecosystem has evolved to provide additional services including insurance, utility payments, pensions, and issuance of government bonds in small denominations, accessible to the public.  

“Significant investment and growth opportunities continue to exist in this dynamic and evolving sector,” President Kenyatta said. 

The President noted with satisfaction the steady rise in the number of American companies setting up business in Kenya in recent years. 

READ:US, Kenya to build 50MW power plant in Kajiado

“I am very pleased to note that since my engagement with the business community this time last year, a number of (American) companies have entered the Kenyan market and opened offices in Kenya,” he said. 

President Kenyatta who led a strong Kenyan delegation that included Governor Lee Kinyanjui of Nakuru County welcomed the US investors to Kenya and assured them of the government’s full support. 

“We seek to ensure that only will your businesses thrive but that you will contribute to Kenya’s development through job creation, resource and technology transfer,” the President assured the American corporate leaders. 

He said the Kenyan economy is robust and that his administration continues to progressively implement policy, market and infrastructure reforms that guarantee a thriving business environment.

READ ALSO:How Kenya’s economy will perform in 2019

“For the companies that are yet to invest in Kenya, I encourage you to engage with your counterparts who are already working in Kenya.  

“They will assure you that in Kenya, you will find a vibrant economy growing at about 6 percent per year, a labour force that is well educated and entrepreneurial, a supportive business investment environment and a good transport and ICT infrastructure,” the President said. 

The Head of State listed the Mombasa-Nairobi-Naivasha Standard Gauge Railway line and the new Lamu Port as some of the mega infrastructure projects implemented by his administration to enhance the business environment in the East African nation. 

READ ALSO:Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) will not kill road transport

Earlier, President Kenyatta held separate bilateral talks with the President of Portugal Marcelo Rebelo de Souza and the Prime Minister of Denmark Mette Frederiksen on the sidelines of the ongoing United Nations General Assembly in New York. 

The President and the two leaders discussed matters of mutual interest between Kenya and their respective countries among them trade, investments and people-to-people interactions as well as Kenya’s bid for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council for the period 2021 to 2022.

Martin Mwita is a business reporter based in Kenya. He covers equities, capital markets, trade and the East African Cooperation markets.

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