President Uhuru Kenyatta leads a delegation of leaders and businesspeople to the UK-Africa Investment Summit on Monday with Kenya eyeing investments for the ‘Big Four Agenda’, continued trade and multilateral deals with a post-Brexit United Kingdom and deepening of political ties.
The historic summit will bring together at least 20 African Heads of State, ambassadors, high commissioners as well as captains of industry.
The recent African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States summit in Nairobi is testament of Kenya’s rising prominence as a global strategic partner, whose foreign policy has expanded beyond the traditional alliances of Europe, China and the United States to countries such as Japan, Jamaica and the Bahamas.
It is no surprise that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson invited Kenya to the summit. The country is solidifying its existing positions.
As one of the stable political corners in Africa, it enjoys a multitude of bilateral and multilateral agreements covering security, development and intelligence sharing.
Among the highlights of the trip will be the launch of the Green Bond at the London Securities Exchange (LSE) by President Kenyatta.
This will open up Kenya to the coveted multimillion-pound UK financial markets, and Britons will also have access to the NSE.
Kenya stands to gain considerably financially and in the development field.
In 2018, Kenya exported 237.5 million pounds (Sh31 billion) worth of goods to the UK with imports valued at 303.6 million pounds.
More markets for Kenyan cotton, textiles and minerals may help to close this trade gap.
The largest taxpaying company in Kenya, Safaricom PLC, also enjoys a large UK investment from Vodacom.
Increased investment from a pharmaceutical company such as GSK for research into tropical diseases and development of new medicine could result in creation of jobs for highly-skilled workers.
More than 200 British companies operate in Kenya with over three billion pounds invested in daily operations.
Besides, UK Trade Commissioner for Africa Emma De-Smith says 36 billion pounds worth of trade is already happening between African and Britain.
One of the areas where UK expertise is being highly sought for in Kenya is the energy sector, especially in renewable and green energy.
Besides the serious investment in solar, wind and geothermal energy, much more needs to be done to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and hydroelectricity to run the industrial sector.
Partnerships with global partners such as France, the US and the UK have been useful in implementation and monitoring of the pilot phases of the ‘Big Four’ pillars of housing, industrialisation and healthcare.
As the Brexit deadline looms, new markets for UK goods and sources of raw material for British manufacturers have become a priority.
Besides the traditional machinery and finished products, the goods crossing the channel into the EU might soon land in Africa.
Seventy per cent of fish caught by UK vessels is in limbo in the absence of a UK-EU deal.
As Kenya pursues food security in ‘Big Four’, sources of high-protein low-fat foods continue to look attractive.
UK banks are set to have limited freedom of operations in Europe soon.
As a prominent growing economy, Kenya could be the likely base for experimenting with financial service trade between the UK and Africa — what with the success of mobile-money platforms such as M-Pesa.
The mutual benefits from military and intelligence cooperation and wildlife conservation are set to continue and be reinforced.
President Kenyatta is expected to meet with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Kate, at the Buckingham Palace on behalf of Her Majesty, the Queen.
The meeting will focus on wildlife conversation, especially the ongoing global war against illegal poaching of elephants and rhinos in Africa.
We can only hope that the expected benefits to Kenya will be met and the trickle-down effects not only felt by the captains of industry, but the (wo)man on the street.
Ms Mararo is State House Spokesperson. [email protected]