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Uhuru urges firms to rival State agencies

By Lee Mwiti | Published Wed, March 7th 2018 at 00:00, Updated March 6th 2018 at 22:43 GMT +3
President Uhuru Kenyatta opens Stars for Africa conference. [Photo/File]

President Uhuru Kenyatta has invited French companies to invest in Kenya’s energy sector and compete with local firms for the benefit of electricity consumers.

Uhuru cited a dearth in investment, especially in power distribution, from the private sector.

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The President, who spoke yesterday at the opening of the Stars for Africa Conference in Nairobi, appealed to the 50 French companies taking part in the two-day event to consider putting their money in the Last Mile Connectivity Project. The Stars for Africa Conference is a European Union-sponsored forum that brings leaders of selected European companies to African cities to interact with young African entrepreneurs.

The first forum took place last year in Bamako, Mali.

Should the firms heed Uhuru’s appeal, they would be in direct competition with Kenya’s main power distributors and generators – Kenya Power and Kenya Electricity Generating Company respectively.

“We have made energy a national priority. We already have some French companies investing in energy generation, but we still want more to come. We also want others in energy distribution. We want access to electricity to citizens to grow from the current 60 per cent in the next five years,” he said.

The conference comes at a time when there is a growing presence of French companies in the country, including Peugeot, which last year started assembling its vehicles at its Thika plant.

Kenya Investments Authority Chief Executive Officer Moses Ikiara confirmed that the French delegation that had shown an interest in putting money in some infrastructure projects had booked an appointment with the Cabinet secretary for Transport and Infrastructure, James Macharia.

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“They are targeting a deal that involves the dualling of the Mombasa highway. They also want a slice of projects that involve building ports, roads, and railways,” said Mr Ikiara.

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Apart from meeting the CS, he said the companies had also expressed an interest in meeting Joe Mucheru of Information Communication Technology and Treasury’s Henry Rotich.