Kenya and Mauritius will continue supporting the private sector by ensuring a conducive environment for enterprises to thrive, President Uhuru Kenyatta and Mauritian Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth said on Friday.
The two leaders noted that the sector holds the key to unlocking the economic potential of their countries as well as the African continent.
President Kenyatta said his administration was fully committed to ensuring investments by private enterprises in Kenya thrive.
He said the success of the sector was key to job and wealth creation as well as the generation of revenue needed for basic services.
“Mine is to pledge to my good friends here (private sector players) that we will do everything we can to facilitate you, to ensure you and our nations prosper so as to create jobs,” President Kenyatta said.
Mr Kenyatta and his host spoke 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 for talks on deepening private sector trade and investment.
President Kenyatta further told Mauritian investors that his government was in the process of setting up a one-stop-shop for processing requisite documents so as to cut the bureaucracy of establishing enterprises.
He thanked that government for its commitment to strengthening trade and investment ties and challenged the private sectors in both countries to take advantage of similarities in policies and infrastructure to set up businesses.
“We are two countries with a common vision, which share common principles and values. We are open, democratic societies that believe in the rule of law,” the President said.
President Kenyatta pointed out that the two economies are largely driven by enterprise and a thriving service sector serving more than 700 million people in the continent's hinterland, a reality he said makes them ideal for private sector investments.
“We are both entrepreneurial people. We understand business. We appreciate business and we know how to take advantage of business opportunities,” he told the forum.
“We both have a very well entrenched service sector with good telecommunication and financial sectors, the other reasons we should work closely."
President Kenyatta also challenged private sector investors to take advantage of their growing ties to ensure the countries 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 increased steadily from $32.4 million in 2008 to S$ 67.1 million in 2018. We should do more to grow these numbers."
While citing opportunities in the blue economy sector, Mr Kenyatta called on the sector to cast its nets wider and take full advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, which is set to become operational in a month.
The recent ratification by the Gambia will see the deal, which seeks to create the largest trade zone in the world, increase intra-African trade by 52 per cent by the year 2022.
Another goal is to remove tariffs on 90 per cent of goods, to attain the membership threshold needed for it to take effect.
“With its implementation, the continent will realise employment creation, economic development, business integration and increased market access,” Mr Kenyatta said.
PM Jugnauth noted that Mauritian companies had already invested more than Sh10 billion in Kenya , mostly in the financial services and sugar sectors.
He also disclosed that one of the top Mauritian insurance companies was ready to invest $30 million in the insurance sector.
The prime minister pointed out that one of the potential areas of cooperation between Kenya and Mauritius was in the establishment of a regional maritime service.
He said discussions were underway with the governments of Mozambique and Madagascar on the need for this service for the Indian Ocean Commission and East African countries.
“This endeavour will get a major lift if supported by Kenya. I believe a regional maritime service can be another game changer for regional economic integration. I pledge today that Mauritius is prepared to take the lead in developing it," Mr Jugnauth said.
Charles Cartier, chairman of the Economic Development Board of Mauritius, and Kepsa chief executive Carole Kariuki also addressed the forum.