Kenya, Netherlands economic ties set to grow even stronger

Mining CS Salim Mvurya (left) with Maarten Brouwer, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Kenya. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Kenya is one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa and the largest economy in East Africa. A hub into Africa and a hub to the world.

The port of Mombasa is the most visible hinge, a well-functioning port that has throughout history been able to attract foreign investments with increased trade activities as a result.

Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, the new deep sea port in Lamu, border facilities in Namanga, Busia and Moyale, as well as Lake Victoria trade are testimony that Kenya holds a regional hub function.

Since independence, the Netherlands has been among the top five global destination of Kenyan goods and the largest in Europe. Kenyan exports to the Netherlands have more than doubled over the last 10 years to stand at Sh69.7 billion in 2022.

During the first six months of this year, Kenyan exports to the Netherlands are at nearly Sh40 billion, a sign of continuing growth. At the same time, the Netherlands is among the top five sources of FDI to Kenya. We can therefore say that Kenya and the Netherlands enjoy strong trade relations with agriculture, specifically horticulture, as a key driver.

Behind this success story is a steadfast Dutch partnership to address various business climate challenges in Kenya. TradeMark Africa, International Finance Corporation, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development and International Development Law Organisation, some of whom we work with in close collaboration, have been important partners in this endeavour.

In the recently launched Multi Annual Country strategy 2023-2026, the Netherlands embassy envisions to further strengthen the economic cooperation between Kenya and the Netherlands, fostering sustainable and inclusive economic growth.

Further development of sea, rail and road infrastructure is critical to Kenya's position on the African continent in global value chains as logistics are a key driver for trade. This position is crucial for Kenya as the African Continental Free Trade Area is gaining traction.

At the same time, the Netherlands is a critical gateway into Europe. It harbours the largest port in Europe, the Port of Rotterdam, and is worldwide the largest port for reefer containers. The logistics sector in the Netherlands is diverse and driven by innovation. The Netherlands has become an expert in multi-modal transport systems. Its logistical capacity is largely driven by the private sector, facilitated by public investments. And we think this could also be the way forward in Kenya.

Sea freight is still an underserved logistical chain in Kenya but has a huge potential. More specifically, the embassy is championing development of a cool logistics corridor connecting Kenya and the Netherlands through sea freight.

This week the Netherlands embassy will welcome 17 Dutch companies that will explore various partnership and investment opportunities in the logistics sector. The companies will get a deep dive into logistics and blue economy systems, by conducting visits to flagship Kenyan logistics hubs. They will also engage with policymakers, companies, financial partners and NGOs to identify market opportunities in order to stimulate private sector investments in the full logistics chain: from farm to market.

-Mr. Brouwer is Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Kenya