Kenya makes big pitch for US investment
Kenyan government officials and business leaders joined forces on Tuesday for a first-ever effort to woo US investors taking part in a bi-annual conference on "Doing Business in Africa."
The 18-member Kenyan delegation made its pitch to about 100 US executives at a forum in Washington sponsored by the Corporate Council on Africa.
Many American businesses appear interested in establishing or expanding operations in Kenya, said Camille Richardson, the commercial counsellor at the US embassy in Nairobi. She travelled to Washington to moderate a panel that included Deo Oyango, CEO of General Electric-Kenya.
“People are coming to the embassy every day looking to increase their footprint on the continent and who view Kenya as a regional hub or a jumping off point for South Sudan,” Ms Richardson said in an interview prior to the forum.
Mugo Kibati, director of the Vision 2030 project, spoke to the gathering about the economic and political reforms that Kenya is undertaking. He also outlined forthcoming infrastructure initiatives such as a commuter rail system, and spoke about a plan to institute a stock exchange in Nairobi specifically for small- and medium-size enterprises.
The forum took place at a time of acute concerns related to cross-border piracy and terrorism.
But Mr Kibati said he doubted that investors will be deterred by the recent forays into Kenya by Somalia-based insurgents.
“Criminal attacks like these happen all over the world, and that particular area of Kenya is uniquely vulnerable,” Mr Kibati said in an interview prior to his presentation. “We’ve been asking the international community for a long time to help us stabilise the situation in Somalia rather than waiting for situations like this to happen.”
The judicial proceedings in the Hague involving a few leading Kenyan politicians should also have no impact on investors’ decisions, Mr Kibati said.
Tuesday’s event was intended as a two-way exchange that entailed potential opportunities for Kenyans to invest in the United States, Ms Richardson noted