President Uhuru Kenyatta has assured investors that Kenya is open and safe for business and investment.
He said the country is an ideal investment destination given the business-friendly reforms the Government has implemented as well as the access to the larger East African Community and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) markets.
“Kenya is on a positive reform trajectory and the Government has implemented far-reaching structural reforms and sound macro-economic management with an impressive turnaround in economic performance,” President Kenyatta said.
The President was speaking Friday in Nairobi during the Kenya-Nigeria Business Forum which was also addressed by Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari.
As one of the promising emerging economies in Africa, President Kenyatta said Kenya is keen to expand and upgrade infrastructure to deliver the required efficiency – in terms of time and cost – to facilitate trade and investment and attract private sector investments in critical sectors of the economy.
“In this regard the Government has taken steps to improve trade and investment climate by implementing key policy initiatives which include: The enactment of the Public Private Partnership Act 2013; The roll-out of e-Procurement; The enactment of investor protection; Ease of doing Business initiatives; The establishment of One–Stop-Shop and the Reduction in the cost of power among others,” he said.
The President encouraged the Kenyan and Nigerian business communities to invest in the country, saying it was important for the private sector to play its role while the Government delivers on policy.
On bilateral relations between the two countries, President Kenyatta observed that the high level visits between the two countries have yielded a number of agreements including the Bilateral Trade Agreement and the Memorandum of Understanding between the Kenyan and Nigerian Private sectors.
President Kenyatta noted that his visit to Nigeria and similar visit to Kenya by former President Goodluck Jonathan culminated in the formation of the Nigeria-Kenya Business Council and the Kenya Nigeria Agri-business Group launched in May 2013 and October 2014.
Members of the agri-business group have had reciprocal visits to Benue State of Nigeria and Busia County of Kenya to enhance agriculture cooperation through benchmarking.
“I am happy to note the outcomes where Busia County received 30 scholarships to the Benue Cultural University for Agriculture,” President Kenyatta said.
He expressed optimism that establishment of the Joint Trade Committee – which has been agreed on – will address issues affecting trade relations between Kenya and Nigeria.
“I believe once the committee is in place it will clear some of the hurdles our business persons are experiencing in order to enhance our trade volumes,” he said.
The President cited Kenya’s proximity to the East African countries with a population of 135 million people, COMESA with a population of over 430 million people and wider the market of 650 million people provided by the Tripartite Free Trade Area as some of the incentive for investing in the country.
“Kenya thus avails enormous opportunities for investment in ICT, manufacturing, agriculture, mining, finance, transport, infrastructure and energy that would serve the above cited regions,” President Kenyatta said.
He also promoted the Lamu Port Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) corridor project as an open area for investment.
Following the discovery of oil in the country and the Nigerian experience in the sector, President Kenyatta invited Nigerian investors to invest in Kenya by going into joint ventures with Kenyan companies or through Public Private Partnerships.
President Buhari called for the removal of business restrictions to allow for a smooth flow of trade between the two countries.
“Our business people should be allowed to operate within the ambit of law unimpeded,” President Buhari said.
He commended President Kenyatta and former President Goodluck Jonathan saying they “brought the West to the East” in terms of trade relations.