President Uhuru Kenyatta and Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth of Mauritius have stated their countries commitment to continue supporting the private sector by ensuring a conducive environment for enterprises to thrive.
The two leaders said the private sector not only holds the key to unlocking the economic potential of Kenya and Mauritius but that of the entire African continent as well.
President Kenyatta said his administration is fully committed to ensuring that investments by private enterprises in Kenya thrive.
He said the success of the private sector is key in job and wealth creation as well as in the generation of the revenue needed by governments to provide basic services to citizens.
“Mine is to pledge to my good friends here (private sector players) that we will do everything we can to facilitate you, to ensure that you prosper and our nations prosper so as to create jobs,” President Kenyatta said.
The Kenyan leader and his host PM Jugnauth were speaking during the Mauritius-Kenya Business Forum organised by the Mauritius Economic Development Board, the Mauritius Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) and the Kenya Investment Authority (KenInvest).
The event themed, “Mauritius-Kenya: An Economic Corridor promoting Intra Africa Trade & Investment” brought together business people to chart ways of deepening private sector led trade and investment between the two nations.
President Kenyatta told Mauritian investors looking to invest in Kenya that his government is in the process of setting up a one-stop-shop for processing requisite documents so as to cut down on the bureaucracy of establishing enterprises.
He thanked the government of Mauritius for its commitment to strengthening trade and investment ties and challenged the private sector from both countries to take advantage of the similarities between Kenya and Mauritius in terms of policies, infrastructure and other resources to set up businesses.
“We are two countries with a common vision, share common principles and values. We are open societies, democratic societies that believe in the rule of law,” the President said.
President Kenyatta noted that Kenya and Mauritius economies are largely driven by enterprise and a thriving service sector which serves over 700 million people in the continent’s hinterland, a reality he said makes the two nations ideal destinations for private sector investment.
“We are both entrepreneurial people, we understand business, we appreciate business and we know how to take advantage of business opportunities,” President Kenyatta told the forum.
“We both have a very well entrenched service sector with good telecommunication, good financial sector, this is the reason we also should work closely,” he added.
President Kenyatta challenged the private sector to take advantage of the strengthening bilateral ties between Kenya and Mauritius to ensure that the two nations move up the economic value chain, create sustainable economies by accessing international markets and attract foreign direct investments.
“Bilateral relations are often measured by the growth of trade between two countries. The total trade between Mauritius and Kenya has increased steadily from US$ 32.4 million in 2008 to US$ 67.1 million in 2018. We should do more to grow these numbers,” the President said.
While citing opportunities available in the blue economy sector, the President called on the private sector to cast their nets wider and take full advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) which is set to become operational in a month’s time.
The recent ratification of the AfCFTA by The Gambia makes the Continental agreement, which seeks to create the largest trade zone in the world, increase intra-African trade by 52% by the year 2022 and remove tariffs on 90% of goods, to attain the membership threshold needed to take effect.
“With its implementation (AfCFTA) the African continent will realise employment creation, economic development, business integration and increased market access,” he said.
PM Jugnauth said Mauritian companies have already invested over Shs 10 billion in Kenya mostly in financial services and sugar sectors and disclosed that one of the top Mauritian insurance companies is ready to invest USD 30 million in the insurance sector.
The Prime Minister pointed out that one of the potential areas of cooperation between Kenya and Mauritius is the establishment of a regional maritime service. He said discussions are already underway with the governments of Mozambique and Madagascar on the need for a regional maritime service for the Indian Ocean Commission and East African countries.
“This endeavor will get a major lift if supported by Kenya. I believe that a Regional Maritime Service can be another game changer for regional economic integration. And I wish to pledge today that Mauritius is prepared to take the lead to develop the Regional Maritime Service,” PM Jugnauth said.
Other speakers at the Business Forum included the Chairman of the Economic Development Board of Mauritius Charles Cartier and the CEO of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance Carole Kariuki.