Multinationals now turning Nairobi into hub for Africa
Posted Saturday, October 13 2012 at 18:08
- Some of the multinationals that have recently set up shop in Nairobi include General Electric, Google, IBM, Visa International, Pepsi, Nestle, Foton Automobiles, World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) and South Africa’s FirstRand Bank
- Wolfgang Fengler, the World Bank’s lead economist for the country, says Kenya has in the last decade continued to attract multinational companies, thanks to an expanding population of working age, access to the sea and the hinterland, a developing education system and better macroeconomic policies
- The past three years have seen other global heavyweights in the service industry such as Google, PwC, advertising agency WPP, Bharti Airtel, Huawei and Procter & Gamble among others announce plans to make Nairobi their headquarters for Africa
The bank’s head of Africa operations Jabu Khethe said they believe there was a gateway of business that exists between India and Africa coming through Kenya.
The services industry needs fast Internet connectivity. This has seen Visa, the global payments company, opening a new regional office in Nairobi.
Visa Group President of Asia Pacific, Central Europe, Middle East and Africa Elizabeth Buse says the hub will serve as a platform to coordinate its financial services to clients in the region.
Visa’s Nairobi office is expected to serve 20 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
Multinational firms like Google are also finding it easier to recruit in Nairobi where they say there is a deep and broad pool of talent from banking to technology.
“It seemed to be the easiest place to get the talent that we needed,” said Joe Mucheru, Google head for sub-Saharan Africa, on why the technology company first set up in Kenya before spreading to other sub-Saharan countries.
The formation of a Common Market in East Africa is helping create a strong internal market with a population of 130 million and a middle class estimated at 30 million consumers.
Multinational auto firms have also established assembly plants in Kenya’s capital city.
China’s state-owned manufacturer Foton Motors has opened an office, joining Toyota East Africa and India’s Tata to unveil such assemblies.
Ministry of Information and Communications Permanent Secretary Bitange Ndemo last week said that deliberations were under way that will see the rolling out of 4G network across all the 47 counties.