Like in many other countries with a post-colonial history of struggling against dictatorship, the business environment in Kenya has not always been ideal.
In addition corruption and government policies have often made the going tough for the private sector.
These include openness to investment, whether that be through local firms or Foreign Direct Investments (FDI), public-private partnerships, or trust from international allies thinking of investing in Kenyan businesses.
Though this has been a tough legacy to break, President Uhuru Kenyatta and his government have struggled to transform the business climate in Kenya in the last few years.
In 2017 and 2018, Kenya attracted more FDI than at any other period in history. That was a direct result of competent and welcoming government policy.
During his recent speech at the UK-Africa Investment Summit that took place in London, the president noted that “Kenya is one of the top 10 fastest growing economies on the continent and also one of the most pro-business nations in Africa.”
Our business environment is now recognised as being among the top on the entire continent of Africa.
As part of an effort to encourage foreign companies and investors to set up branches in Kenya, Uhuru committed to an audience of more than 20 African leaders as well as numerous other dignitaries that his administration will do everything possible to eliminate all roadblocks that are currently an obstacle to growth.Renewable energy
But turning a profit and boosting the economy is not the only priority. It cannot come at the expense of the environment.
While other world leaders met in Davos the same week and debated the impact of climate change, Uhuru was resolute in his commitment to put in place environmentally friendly policies at every opportunity.
During his speech, he noted that “programmes such as geothermal and wind power production have attracted foreign direct investment to the point that today about 70 per cent of all the power that we generate in Kenya comes from renewable energy sources”.
He further explained that developing countries need to come up with their own innovative ways to accelerate economic growth in environmentally friendly ways.
Each country is going through it differently, and Kenya has its own set of challenges. But despite this, the Big Four agenda continues to guide manufacturing and infrastructure growth, including the construction of more affordable houses.
After attending the summit, Uhuru secured a deal with UK Climate Investment (UKCI) to invest Sh3.94 billion to build about 10,000 inexpensive homes.
World Bank data states that the Kenya housing deficit stands at two million homes, which grows at a rate of about 200,000 per year.
The UKCI funded homes will be both water and energy efficient, in line with the president’s vision.
We must set a good example through our own actions if we are to practice what we preach. The best way of doing this is by building homes for the future, using new technologies that save on utilities and save the earth.
The government cannot be solely responsible for driving all of Kenya’s prosperity. Its role is to take the first step by enacting pro-growth policies.
It also must invest a good deal of time and money in inviting foreign dignitaries, as well as going on official state visits to ensure that Kenya’s name is recognised around the world as a trusted partner.
The president has been resolute in trying to establish us as a leader in regional security issues and counter-terrorism, with our forces working round the clock to prevent potential threats from Al Shabaab. With Nigeria leading West Africa and South Africa leading Southern Africa, Kenya is the natural leader in the East.
And it is time we took advantage of changing tides in Europe, Asia and North America to bring yet more business here.
With Brexit looming and trade wars between China and US continuing, the business environment in Kenya has never been more important and luckily it has never been better.
The business friendly policies in addition to affordable cost of housing in Nairobi for westerners make it a very attractive spot for foreign nationals to conduct business, which in turn creates more jobs for Kenyans.
Standing now on the cusp of a new decade, we are closer than ever to the Vision 2030.
Mr Guleid is the CEO of Frontier Counties Development Council. [email protected]
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