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Uhuru markets Kenya as preferred investor destination

Thursday April 19 2018

President Uhuru Kenyatta

President Uhuru Kenyatta (left) and Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hold bilateral talks on the sidelines of Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London on April 19, 2018. PHOTO | COURTESY  

AGGREY MUTAMBO
By AGGREY MUTAMBO
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President Uhuru Kenyatta has promised to speed up plans for an arbitration centre in Nairobi to attract investors who complain of delays in the Judiciary.

On the sidelines of the ongoing Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit in London, President Kenyatta marketed his government as pro-investors.

But the nagging question was how he was dealing with the continual backlog of cases in the courts, especially commercial cases, some which have taken decades to be resolved.

“Investors want Kenya to set up an arbitration centre to tackle the bulk of commercial cases, because our court system takes too long and is injurious to business,” State House Spokesman Manoah Esipisu told the Nation.

“The President has asked senior staff to coordinate discussions with our justice team to see how this can be delivered quickly.”

DISPUTE RESOLUTION

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The Judiciary has previously put forth suggestions for alternative dispute resolution mechanisms such as traditional village barazas, mediation and arbitration.

A report published by the Judiciary in February says 315, 378 cases were still pending court. Though down by 8 per cent, the report showed about one in six cases had dragged in court for ten or more years since they were filed, while another fifth remained unresolved for more than five years.

Businesses are often affected by civil and criminal cases touching on employment, property ownership and taxation.

In arbitration, parties can choose the arbiter and resolve the matters at own schedules.

QUEEN ELIZABETH

On Thursday evening, President Kenyatta joined other leaders for the official opening of the Commonwealth Summit at the Buckingham Palace which was presided over by Queen Elizabeth II.

The leaders are meeting in London to focus on trade between the 53 member states, targeting the $2 trillion (Sh200 trillion) mark. The UK is one of the biggest investors in Kenya with 220 UK companies worth £2.7 billion operating here and employing about 250,000 Kenyans both directly and indirectly, according to the UK Department of Foreign and International Development.

But with Britain exiting the European Union, Kenyan officials argue it also presents new opportunities for countries to explore new economic ventures.

A diplomatic brief seen by the Nation says Kenya calls for shunning of ‘isolationism’ where countries promote, rather than dilute international collaborations.

INVESTMENTS

Foreign Affairs and International Trade CS Monica Juma, for example, told an audience Kenya is inviting investments that could help harvest resources in the oceans, as long as there is protection of the environment.

She spoke at the Commonwealth Foreign Minister’s Forum on a 'More Sustainable Future’ and a 'More Prosperous Future’, where she called for stringent measures against piracy off the Coast of Somalia the Djibouti.

“The cooperation in Maritime Security should not be restricted to piracy but to cover other illicit maritime activities such as illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, smuggling of oil, trafficking of drugs, arms, persons, agricultural products, toxic waste dumping and marine pollution,” she said in a speech.

BLUE CHARTER

The ministers adopted the Commonwealth Blue Charter, setting out the principles by which Commonwealth member countries will lead campaign for protection of oceans.

The ministers admitted previous failures where oceans, for example were used as dumping grounds for chemicals and plastics.

As a rubber stamp, the heads of government will be expected to establish action groups on ocean-related where they will be expected to draw down similar policies on protection.

Kenya is due to host a conference on the Blue Economy Forum in November where similar issues are to be discussed but with a wider grouping of countries.

LONDON STOCK EXCHANGE

Earlier, the President met with officials at the London Stock Exchange, where they discussed the idea of having Kenya float bonds in local currency to cushion investors from the fluctuations in the exchange rates.

Dr Juma urged members to increase cooperation across the Commonwealth in detection, investigation and prosecution of computer and cyber-crimes, admitting the internet was making crime borderless.

President Kenyatta has, at the sidelines of the Commonwealth forums, held discussions with presidents Cyril Ramaphosa (South Africa), Filipe Nyusi (Mozambique) and Nana Akufo-Addo (Ghana).

He has also held talks with American business magnate Bill Gates.