President William Ruto’s administration is facing a daunting task of selling Kenya to foreign investors amid riots by Azimio coalition that have brought business activities to a near standstill.
In the past two weeks, President Ruto has had three major sit-downs with investors – at the Nairobi Securities Exchange, in Berlin Germany and at the just-concluded American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM-Kenya) Business Summit held in Nairobi – where he sold the country as a safe business haven.
On Thursday at the closure of the AMCHAM summit, he made pronouncements on taxes meant to attract multinationals particularly in the ICT sector.
The remarks were, however, drowned in anti-government chants led by Azimio leader Raila Odinga who for some reason, chose to lead his brigade of protesters along Mombasa Road a few kilometres from the summit that Ruto was addressing.
It’s obvious the cloud of the Azimio protests is hanging above Ruto’s administration and is tainting the country’s image.
For example, barely a day after closing the AMCHAM summit, US Ambassador to Kenya Meg Whitman issued a statement on the violence meted on journalists during the Azimio protests.
“The United States is deeply concerned by recent reports of attacks against journalists. Protecting press freedom and safety is a cornerstone of democracy,” read the statement.
Just a day before, the ambassador had praised the country for its outstanding business environment, selling Kenya to American investors.
“Kenya is the most stable democracy in East Africa,” she said in part.
As Whitman was guiding investors through the different business opportunities in the country, protestors in Nairobi were causing mayhem on the streets, as they engaged the police in cat and mouse games.
On the same day, a joint statement by Embassies and High Commissions, among them United States, addressed the violence.
Even so, Trade and Industry Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria, on Wednesday, assured of Kenya’s stable political position during the opening of the summit.
At the same time, President Ruto issued while in Germany underscored Kenya as a leader in clean energy with over 90 per cent derived from renewables.
This selling point also featured in AMCHAM summit.
“Kenya generates 93 per cent of electricity from natural sources. Kenya is well on its way to meet its targets of 100 per cent renewable energy,” said the US Ambassador.
When President Ruto made a keynote address at the NSE last week at the onset of the protests, he downplayed effects of the riots on the business environment.