NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 26 – Leaders of global financial institutions on Friday hailed President Uhuru Kenyatta’s vision and leadership, which they saw as crucial to Africa’s growth, as the 6th Tokyo International Conference on African Development kicked off.
World Bank President and the African Development Bank (AfDB) said Kenya’s policies under President Kenyatta had created a conducive environment that promoted investment, intra-African trade and growth, and put Kenya firmly among the continent’s most progressive societies.
“I have to pay tribute to President Kenyatta. He is a visionary who is recognised all over the world and he is committed to good governance,” World Bank President Jim Yong Kim told a TICAD forum on business in Africa.
“When you have a visionary person like President Kenyatta, it is important to invest,” added the World Bank boss.
He said the bank looks at President Kenyatta as a leader who is showing the way for the African continent.
“Kenya is making the right decisions and is on the right path thanks to the leadership of President Kenyatta,” added Akinwumi Adessina, President of the AfDB.
President Kenyatta himself weighed in for the continent, making a strong and passionate case for increased investments in Africa.
He said the fact that Africa in on the rise is now evident for everyone and investors stand to gain from doing business in Kenya and other African countries.
The President said the ease of doing business has improved in most countries while stability is being increasingly achieved.
“As this mammoth continent moves, it is sending shockwaves throughout the world and creating opportunities for investors globally. They too…you, too…can move with it. You can move with us. You can do that as investors—as partners in the private sector,” said President Kenyatta.
President Kenyatta said it is the private sector that holds the key to unlocking all the greatness of Africa and opening up opportunities for all the people of the continent.
He said Kenya has worked hard to improve the business environment making the country one of the highest recipients of foreign direct investments.
“I am particularly curious to see what contributions our engagement here will offer to the broader dialogue on African development and Japan-Africa relations,” said President Kenyatta.
The President spoke at a session whose theme was ‘Role of private sector in Africa’s economic transformation’ which brought together investors, development agencies and bankers.
Kim said Kenya is one of the countries with the biggest voice at the World Bank and the group plans to increase its investments in the country.
“Kenya is one of the largest powers of the World Bank and we intend to increase our investments. When you have someone like President Kenyatta, you have no choice but to invest.”
He said the World Bank is ready to support businesses that are investing in Africa since the bank intends to double its investments in the continent.
Adesina said Africa’s impressive growth, while the rest of the world was facing economic headwinds, is credited to the role of the private sector.
Adesina said industrialisation was a prerequisite for Africa to witness economic growth and this can happen when governments support their private sectors.
The conference, which will run until Sunday, has brought together more than 10,000 delegates and at least 35 Heads of State and Government are expected to take part at the meeting being held at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre.
Earlier while launching the opening of the conference together with President Kenyatta at State House, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the meeting was historic.
This is the first time the TICAD process has held its meeting outside of Japan since it started in 1993.
TICAD has over the years become a global platform through which African countries, Japan and other entities have collaborated for Africa’s development.