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Kenya targets Sh200 billion in investments by year end

By Frankline Sunday | November 23rd 2015

Kenya will be host to thousands of delegates this week from over thirty countries across the globe for an investment conference that has the potential to unlock $2 billion (Sh204 billion) worth of business.

The conference is expected to bring together business leaders, local and international investors, entrepreneurs and top business personalities from the world to share, discuss and take up investment opportunities in Kenya.

Tourism CS Phylis Kandie(L) receives a gift from Oxford Business Group Country Director Vaselina Kracheva during a press conference of the second edition of Kenya International Investment Conference (KIICO 2015) on 21/10/15. (PHOTO: BONIFACE OKENDO/ STANDARD)

Cabinet Secretary for East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism Phyllis Kandie said that Kenya offers a consumer market of 44 million, but because of its strong trade ties in the East African region and the wider Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa), investors can access the region’s close to 440 million consumers.

“Kenya is already attracting a multitude of global investors and over the past 12 months we have seen a marked rise in interest in sectors such as agribusiness, ICT, apparels and textiles, leather, renewable energy, property, tourism and logistics,” she said ahead of the conference.

The meeting comes four months after the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) that brought US President Barack Obama and over 3,000 delegates to Nairobi and just two weeks ahead of the World Trade Organisation’s Ministerial Conference that is expected to bring its tenth and first ever sitting to the African continent.

According to Anne Kirima, the chairperson of the Kenya Investment Authority (KenInvest), which is putting together the conference, Kenya continues to enjoy significant goodwill as an investment hub internationally.

“When investors look at the African continent in terms of investment, the cluster areas are southern Africa,which has South Africa as its de facto focal point, West Africa where we have Nigeria and Egypt in North Africa,” she explained.

She argues that given the country’s strategic geographic position and a coastline that is a gateway for several other land-locked countries in the region, Kenya has earned its right to become a regional hub.

“Kenya is the East African investment hub and at the moment we are enjoying significant competitive advantages,” explained Ms Kirima.

“South Africa has issues with the rand, Nigeria as well has a lower ranking in terms of doing business and we know the challenges in North Africa. Whereas Tanzania might have the same geographical features - land mass and coastline - if you look at the level of education and work ethic, Kenya emerges on top,” she explained.

“A lot of people compare us with Rwanda, which is a good country, but if you look at the size of their market we are twenty times bigger so we win in terms of volume of output.”

When asked about Ethiopia, Kirima was also confident that despite the country’s 10 per cent GDP growth and significant investor appetite, Kenya is still the pearl of foreign direct investment in the East African region.

Kirima further pointed out that Kenya’s hospitality and cosmopolitan population is a bonus for the country.

“When a foreigner wants to work in a country they look for three things besides the economic viability of their investment - security, accommodation and schools for their children,” explained Kirima.

She reckoned that Kenya scores well in all three areas despite the security challenges it has faced in the recent past, which have since been resolved.

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