Kenya’s tea sector is set for a major boost after Slovakia expressed interest in it as a possible investment area.
At a press conference yesterday, Slovakia President Andrej Kiska said his country is looking to invest in Kenya’s tea, coffee and technology industries. In technology, the two countries hope to share innovations, especially around the ease of doing business and money transfer.
“Kenya is known for its tea and coffee, but it was fascinating to learn that the transfer of money in Kenya is much easier compared to Europe,” said Mr Kiska.
The Slovakian president did not disclose how much or when his country is hoping to direct funds into Kenya, but said investments in these three sectors help strengthen trade ties between the two countries.
Kiska held bilateral talks with President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House yesterday on a “series of issues”. One of the major discussion points was stabilising the trade imbalance which is in favour of Slovakia.
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In a research note yesterday, Standard Investment Bank analysts noted that as at 2015, Kenya’s total exports to Eastern Europe (which includes Slovakia) rose by 5 per cent to Sh11.5 billion. Russia accounted for 70 per cent of these exports, and the total value of products sent to the region represented just 7.9 per cent of what went into all of Europe.
On the other hand, imports from Eastern Europe stood at Sh35.8 billion, a year-on-year drop of 11.3 per cent, and representing 12.1 per cent of total imports from Europe.
While the relationship between Kenya and Slovakia has largely been characterised by NGO and aid programmes, Kiska said this would no longer be the case.
He noted that his country has pumped more than Sh10 billion into the country in the last few years in various projects that provided jobs for more than 40,000 Kenyans.
“We have agreed with the President on ways to provide better healthcare and education, and maximise technology to boost our countries’ development,” said Kiska.
President Uhuru noted that Kenya’s fast-growing economy, courtesy of innovative technologies, has made the country a desirable destination for investments.
He said the new interest from Slovakia is proof that Kenya has resourceful allies.
“We have developed our infrastructure as one of the ways to reduce the cost of doing business, attracting major investments,” said Uhuru, adding that the new trade talks with Slovakia would go a long way towards reducing the trade gaps.
“This represents a big milestone in our bilateral relations and we can only anticipate our ties to grow stronger.”
Slovakia is one of Europe’s fastest-growing economies, with foreign direct investments fuelling much of this growth.