Kenya safe for business, Uhuru assures investors

Thursday, February 17th, 2022 10:27 | By

President Uhuru Kenyatta has assured global investors that Kenya is open and safe for business.

The Head of State said his administration has put in place a legal framework for investment that provides adequate investor protection in line with most international standards including safeguards for property rights.

He added that Kenya enjoys political and economic stability, a fully liberalised economy, a large domestic consumer market, a youthful, skilled and productive labour force as well as a modern infrastructure network. 

“These attributes have made Kenya the location of choice for multinational companies and a leading destination for foreign direct investment in the region,” the Head of State said when he launched celebrations to mark the Kenya National Day at the Expo 2020 Dubai.

A total of 192 countries are participating in the six-month world exposition in Dubai, with every country allocated a national day of honour.

At the same time, President Kenyatta reiterated that Kenya is keen to build new trade relationships with the Gulf Cooperation Council states and other countries participating in the expo. 

“We seek to harness the opportunities offered by this expo to build new business partnerships, attract new investments and bring tourists to Kenya to enjoy our world-renowned attractions,” he said. 

Speaking at the Kenya flag-hoisting ceremony, UAE Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence His Highness Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan who is also the and Commissioner General of the Expo 2020 Dubai said Kenya and the UAE enjoy a strong relationship based on shared values and vision since its establishment in the early 1980s.

Trading partners

“We are pleased to be among Kenya’s top trading partners globally,” Sheikh Al Nahyan said, terming President Kenyatta’s presence at the exposition as a reflection of the close ties between the two countries.

Meanwhile, manufacturers and analysts called on the government to improve the competitiveness of Kenya’s business environment before signing free trade agreements, saying the move will only hurt local companies further.

In a speech on Tuesday in Dubai, President Kenyatta among other things asked for negotiations to open a free trade corridor between Kenya and UAE to correct the trade imbalance between the two countries. Kenya Association of Manufacturers CEO Phylis Wakiaga said while a free trade agreement between Kenya and UAE is welcome, to fully benefit from this, a conducive business environment for local manufacturers is fundamental.

“Currently, we are grappling with overreaching regulations, numerous taxes and regulations, and an inefficient transport and logistics system, which hinder our competitiveness and productivity,”she added.

Analysts also argue that cost of production is high in Kenya and that there is a need to fix local manufacturing before opening the markets.

“Even with the existing tariffs, it is still cheaper to import than to buy locally, meaning that if you open the borders the situation will be bad for local manufacturers,” said Sarah Wanga, an analyst at AIB Capital.

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