Rampant graft in Kenya is to blame for the low level of trade between the country and the US, an industry lobby has said.
In a new development, the American Chamber of Commerce in Kenya (AmCham) has said the country’s lack of commitment to ethics is standing in the way of doing more business with countries in the developed world, and the United States in particular.
AmCham Kenya Chief Executive Maxwell Okello said despite showing high interest, many US firms fear setting up in Kenya due to the persistent hurdles posed by poor governance.
"Other than low level of awareness about investment opportunities in Kenya, graft tends to put off many American investors,” he said.
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Kenya's ability to do more business with the US is hampered by low level of small enterprise development, he added.
"Many local businesses are not yet empowered to take up opportunities that come with partnerships with US companies," said Okello.
He attributed the challenge to inadequate support from agencies responsible for advocating the interests of small businesses, which he said is letting the sector down.
"Amcham is doing its best in terms of showcasing the country’s investment opportunities. However, other relevant bodies are not doing a good job in building SME capacity," he said.
US Embassy Deputy in Charge of Economic Affairs Chris De Angelis said the State needs to focus on giving investors a more conducive environment to grow their businesses.
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"The US sees Kenya as an attractive investment destination. However, issues such as taxation create hurdles to new investments,” he said.
However, Mr De Angelis said the US was committed to deepening its relationship with Kenya in to boost investment and trade.
"The US stands as one of Kenya's longest trading and development partners and our assistance has been more focused on helping Kenya move from a beneficiary to a benefactor," he said.