By Tobby Otum
President Kenyatta has invited the Barbadian business community to invest in Kenya.The Head of State has urged Barbadian investors to set shop in Kenya saying his administration has created an enabling environment for both foreign and local businesses to thrive.President Kenyatta said the Kenyan government has put in place mechanisms such as protection of investment legislation and other instruments that facilitate an enabling business environment.
The Head of State added that Kenya is a signatory to a number of treaties in the region that make it a gateway not only to the East African market but also to the rest of Africa.
“Kenya is an entry point into the African market and if your businesses come to Kenya, they will get access to an African population of 1.2 billion,” President Kenyatta assured the Barbadian business community.
“Kenya is a member of the East African Community, Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and has ratified the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA),” he added.
The President spoke in Bridgetown, Barbados during a business forum that brought together Kenyan and Barbadian investors to discuss business opportunities that exist in the two countries.
President Kenyatta said Kenya and Barbados may be thousands of miles apart but there are existing opportunities that can shorten that distance.
“Kenya is open for business. Kenya is ready for business. We want to partner with you and we believe that our partnership will be mutually beneficial,” President Kenyatta told the investors.
He pointed out that Kenya was ranked position 61 out of 190 countries by the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Report 2019.
“It is against this backdrop that Kenya is the preferred destination for investment in the Eastern and Central Africa region and therefore welcomes Barbadian investors,” the President said.
The Kenyan leader singled out the tourism sector, mobile money, renewable energy, blue economy and affordable housing as emerging areas that present lucrative opportunities for foreign investment.
“When it comes to fintech, we would want to see how we can partner to help you develop your product through mobile money platforms not just for Barbados but for the entire CARICOM region,” the President said.
The President advised Kenyan investors not to look at Barbados as a single country but an entry point into the wider Caribbean Community (CARICOM) market.
“We should see this region as the new frontier, as the real true South partner that we can work together with and of whom we share a very similar outlook of the future,” he said.
President Kenyatta said the political will at the top could only be translated into prosperity for Kenya and Barbados if the private sector plays its role effectively as the true front runners of the process.
Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley said the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries should work to remove the obstacles that hinder trade between them by involving their respective private sectors.
“Traditionally, Barbadians do not invest in Africa in tourism. Traditionally Africans do not invest in Caribbean in tourism. There is absolutely no reason for that not to happen,” she said.
The PM emphasized that private sector investment in the two countries should not be a preserve of big companies saying small and medium sized enterprises should also be given the platform to participate.