Uhuru urges Asia to use Kenya as gateway to Africa’s vast market

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President Uhuru Kenyatta on Saturday called on Asian economies to use Kenya as a gateway to Africa’s market of over 1.2 billion people that is worth more than US$ 29 trillion.

President Kenyatta said Kenya is the best entry point for Asian businesses that want to trade in Africa with the coming into force of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA).

“I invite you to use Kenya as a gateway to the African continent.   It is not only one of the top-ten fastest-growing economies in Africa but is also one of the most pro-business Nations on the continent,” said President Kenyatta today.

The President made the statement when he delivered the keynote address at the Singapore Summit 2019 on Saturday morning. The Singapore Summit started in 2012,  is one of the foremost events that brings together business and thought leaders from Asia and around the world to discuss global trends in business, finance and geopolitics.

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Addressing the business leaders gathered at the Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore, President Kenyatta said Kenya is a leader in pro-business reforms.

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He said the country has scored huge improvements in the World Bank’s Ease-of-Doing-Business index, jumping 107 places since  2012 to its present position of number 61 globally and 3rd in Africa.

The President said Kenya is also the leading country in Sub-Saharan Africa in terms of ICT and technology-penetration, FinTech and Financial Inclusion.

Kenya’s mobile phone subscriptions currently stand at 95 per cent of its population of more than 45 Million.

The country has also leveraged on its strength in ICT and mobile cellular subscription to become the global leader in mobile money and mobile banking.

“Kenya’s world-famous M-Pesa mobile money platform has promoted financial inclusion in our country and provided a template for reaching conventionally-unbanked populations across the region,” said the President.

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He urged Asian investors to seek partnerships to access the vibrant Kenyan market and the wider continental market.

The President suggested several crucial steps to build a strong foundation for the partnership between Singapore and Kenya as well as between the Asian and African continents.

He said Kenya and Singapore should strengthen cooperation in building and expansion of transport, communication, energy, housing, and ICT infrastructure in Kenya;

The second suggestion by the President was the facilitation of mergers or collaborative arrangements between Asian companies and Kenyan companies; and promotion of linkages between Micro, Small, and Medium-Size Enterprises (MSMEs), on both sides of the Indian Ocean.

President Kenyatta said there should be a collaboration between Asia and Africa in cultural exchanges, capacity building and information sharing as the foundations for forging a new path of productivity and commerce.

After delivering his keynote address, President Kenyatta joined the chairman of the summit Mr Ho Kwan Ping for a panel discussion on Kenya’s role in promoting closer partnership between Africa and Asia.

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The President said Kenya’s skilled human capital, thriving service industry, its leading ICT sector and its strategic location make the country the right gateway into the African continent.

He said Kenya and Singapore are exploring the modalities for direct flights between the two countries. He said like Singapore, Kenya is a hub for the whole of Africa and is connected to all parts of the continent and Europe as well as America.

President Kenyatta’s visit to Singapore builds on the successful Afro-Asia Fintech Festival 2019, which was co-hosted by Kenya and Singapore in Nairobi in July 2019.

The President was accompanied by Central Bank Governor Dr Patrick Njoroge, Housing Principal Secretary Charles Hinga and Amb Johnson Weru, the Director of Economic Affairs and Commercial Diplomacy Directorate at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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