US Ambassador Meg Whitman wows with her 'investment' pitch

US Ambassador Meg Whitman (second left) with Governors Susan Kihika (Nakuru), George Natembeya (Trans Nzoia), Fernandes Barasa (Kakamega) and Julius Makau Malombe (Kitui) during the 8th Devolution Conference in Eldoret. [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

US Ambassador Meg Whitman has challenged county governments to build and provide a conducive business environment to benefit from available business opportunities.

In her address at the 8th Devolution Conference in Eldoret, she welcomed President William Ruto’s policies to open the country for business.

She wowed the delegates with her crisp presentation, which not only highlighted the US-Kenya trade opportunities but also, how counties can benefit.

At the end of her speech, President Ruto led the delegates in giving the ambassador a standing ovation. Ms Whitman praised Ruto’s administration for implementing measures to improve the business environment through new taxation policies, among other measures.

“There is something happening here. Kenya is open for business, the government has implemented measures to open Kenya for business,” Whitman said.

She said the move has resulted in increased investments like the Delmonte $5.5 million fresh food packing facility, Kentegra $15 million pyrethrum processing plant in Nakuru and Regen Organics recycling plant.

She cited other investments like CCI Global doubling its business outsourcing program, Milele energy acquisition of Turkana Wind-Power energy and the $500 million GOK-Moderna vaccine manufacturing plant in Kiambu.

“There are many reasons why many global firms should consider Kenya. What are your priorities, what is your sales pitch?” she posed.

She added: “America is used to doing business in Europe and Asia. I encourage taking this presentation and telling the story: why Africa, why Kenya, why your county? You should answer the question.”

Whitman noted that last year’s elections were peaceful and transparent, and added that several US firms are now eyeing investment expansion here.

She praised Kenya’s education system for producing hard-working people at the core of impacting the country’s transformation.

“Kenya is English-speaking, highly-literate and has strong primary, secondary and tertiary institutions. Every firm says the Kenyan workforce is regarded as the best in the world,” she noted.

Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa said they have partnered with counties and the national government for digital transformation and infrastructure.

“We are working with national and county to provide secure connectivity, infrastructure development and financial technology, and affordable smartphones," he said.

The CEO said Safaricom has rolled out “My County App” in 14 counties to enable counties engage with citizens and onboard county services.

“In my engagement with the county we have identified one challenge by nature of a wide portfolio, we are implementing a user experience dubbed My County App,” he said.

He said Safaricom is ready to help Kenyans access services at the comfort of their homes, shambas or businesses.

AMREF CEO Githinji Gitahi noted that they have worked with counties to build on primary healthcare and improve access to healthcare services.

“We are working with the Ministry of Health to enable registration of 22 counties to achieve primary health care networks. We are also using the ministry to enable registration of over 100,000 community healthcare promoters, and we continue to support your agenda to achieve this,” he said.