Kenya urged to focus on security as trade rises

Kenya needs goodwill from all political players for business to thrive.

Tuesday January 5 2016

Containers at the port of Mombasa. Global Risk

Containers at the port of Mombasa. Global Risk Insights (GRI) has stated that Kenya needs goodwill from all political players for business to thrive . A FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By JAMES KARIUKI
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A global political risk assessor has said that Kenya’s position as a dominant regional economic player can only be guaranteed if it creates a conducive business environment by enhancing security within and beyond its borders.

Global Risk Insights (GRI) stated that Kenya needs goodwill from all political players for business to thrive as well as enhanced institutional capacity within government agencies to address security issues at points of entry into the country.

This, GRI stated, will lock out “harmful substances” that could be used to destabilise the business environment forcing investors to flee or to shun Kenya.

In an article titled "Can Kenya’s Security Keep Up With Trade", authored by defence and political analyst Cameron Ever, DRI states that “the effectiveness of international assistance efforts to improve Kenya’s trade and security environment depends upon Kenya’s political will and institutional capability to maintain these initiatives long after international partners have returned home”.

He added that the establishment of a government in Somalia signals the weakening of Somalia-based terror groups giving Mombasa a chance to rise to its glorious past as an economic hub that will create an enormous development ripple effect on industries based in Nairobi and in other regions.

“As economic stakes are raised, terrorism and non-proliferation of small arms require political focus and follow-through. Fortunately, there are signs that promote hope for the future and Kenya is not alone in the process,” said Mr Evers.

ECONOMIC HUB

GRI stated that while broad international efforts to assist in securing Kenya from terrorism are welcome, the necessary final steps of making the country safe lies squarely on active participation by citizens.

It further noted that the Standard Gauge Railway construction as well as port expansion in Mombasa and construction of a new port in Lamu enhances Kenya’s position as a preferred port of call for many shipping lines.

Mombasa is directly connected to over 80 ports via shipping routes around the world and has become an important port for landlocked countries such as Uganda, Rwanda, DR Congo and Burundi.

“Government initiatives towards infrastructure modernisation of Mombasa, the ‘city of merchants’ as a trading hub for East Africa as well as parts of Central Africa is a positive factor of growing trade and manufacturing capabilities,” Mr Evers said.

GRI observed that while concerted international efforts to secure Kenya’s position as a regional economic hub were bearing fruit it was important that Kenya take full control of its border entry points and ports to ensure no potentially harmful chemicals could be shipped in for terrorism-related activities within and beyond its borders.

This is made more important due to regional instability in Somalia and Sudan that has seen a number of armed groups emerge to control large swathes of the two countries.

“Small arms and explosives proliferation from Somalia into Kenya is presently a major security challenge facing Kenyan officials, along with smuggling from South Sudan and Ethiopia,” the article stated.

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