Kenya could witness an increased flow of Indian investment following a resolution passed at a business forum chaired by President Uhuru Kenyatta in India.
Speaking during the Kenya-India Business Forum held in New Delhi Thursday, the Indian business community led by the Chairman and Managing Director of Kanoria Chemical Limited Mr Rajya Vardhan Kanoria, said it has been encouraged by the leadership of President Kenyatta which has created a conducive investment environment in Kenya.
“I have personally visited Kenya and I can testify that the environment for doing business has improved significantly,” Mr Kanoria told the business meeting that was also attended by members of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) and the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI).
On his part, India’s Minister for Information and Broadcasting Mr Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore said President Kenyatta’s zeal for Kenya – which is similar to that of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for India – is the driving force behind the ease of doing business in Kenya.
“The sheer energy that President Kenyatta engages to improve the welfare of Kenyans reminds me that leadership matters. A lot of times, we as business people, like to see the kind of infrastructure that is there and the policies that are in place before we invest in a country,” he said. “But often these are linked to the leadership that is in that country.”
Mr Rathore said India has been transformed because of the leadership provided by Prime Minister Modi and the world has witnessed a similar trend in Kenya under the leadership of President Kenyatta.
“It is not surprising that President Kenyatta’s ratings in Kenya are soaring so high,” Mr Rathore said. “There are a lot of opportunities for Indian investors in Kenya under the leadership of President Kenyatta than ever before.”
President Kenyatta, who was wrapping up his State visit to India, urged Indian firms to set base in Kenya, saying its position is conducive for investors to use as a launch pad to penetrate the enormous markets of eastern, central and southern Africa.
“We are making further progress in the widening of this market through the Tripartite Free Trade Area, which will provide a market of over 650 million people,” President Kenyatta said.
He singled out the cotton textile industry, infrastructure, agri-business, fertilizer manufacturing, medical equipment, pharmaceuticals and the blue economy as some of the sectors open for investment.
“I just want to repeat that Kenya offers a highly conducive business environment. We are the third most improved country in the 2016 World Bank Ease of Doing Business indicators, owing to strong reforms in the areas of starting a business, obtaining access to electricity, registering property, protecting minority investors and resolving insolvency,” he said.
The Head of State emphasized that the success of Indian firms already based in Kenya should serve as a source of motivation and assurance that the country is a safe and lucrative investment destination.
“We are working also to have closer cooperation between the Bureau of Indian Standards and the Kenya Bureau of Standards that will result in greater alignment between our two countries in terms of standardization, conformity assessment, certification and testing,” President Kenyatta said.
He said the harmonization will significantly reduce non-tariff barriers impeding trade between Kenya and India, leading to a boost in trade flows.
President Kenyatta also welcomed the revival of the Joint Kenya-India Business Council, saying it will give impetus to trade relations and enhance cooperation in bilateral investment, infrastructure development, SMEs, agriculture, health energy and entrepreneurship.
“I, therefore, urge the nominated Business Council members to take to their task diligently and ensure that the momentum that Prime Minister Modi and I are pushing for is maintained,” President Kenyatta said.
The President disclosed that Kenya has undertaken initiatives to further improve the trade and investment climate, including enactment of the Public Private Partnership Act 2013 as well as the introduction of e-Procurement to ensure transparency in the procurement process.
Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohamed assured Indian investors that Kenya is capable of delivering one of the highest returns in the continent and the world today in excess of 20 to 25 per cent in many of the sectors they would wish to invest in.
Mr Vimal Shah, who represented KEPSA, said the Kenyan business community has a listening Government under the leadership of President Kenyatta.
“Kenya is more open to business than ever before and it is the gateway to the whole of the African market,” Mr Shah informed the Indian investors.
The business forum saw the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding to establish a joint business council between the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI).