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More UK investments boon to Kenyans

Thursday January 16 2020

manufacturing sector.

Metal roofing tiles are manufactured at Space and Style in Juja, Kiambu County, on December 23, 2019. The Invest Africa programme is working to generate more foreign direct investment into the sector. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

JANE MARRIOT
By JANE MARRIOT
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On Monday, the United Kingdom government will host the first UK-Africa Investment Summit, where government and business leaders, as well as innovators, entrepreneurs and investors, will discuss investment opportunities and partnerships in Africa.

The London event has attracted 16 African leaders from the continent’s biggest economies, including Kenya.

With an estimated one million Kenyans entering the workforce every year, increased private sector investment into Kenya will make a real difference; it means more jobs and opportunities for Kenyans.

During my first few months here, I have had the privilege of meeting with young Kenyans from across the country.

These ambitious young people — the face of the next generation — speak to me about their hopes for the future of their country. And more jobs are integral to them achieving their goals.

SOCIAL IMPACT POLICIES

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More than 200 British businesses are already operating in Kenya. They are creating quality jobs - an estimated one in 10 Kenyans employed in the formal sector works for a British company.

They are also developing Kenyan talent, matching strong performance with new opportunities.

Through their social impact policies, British companies are also giving back to their communities, supporting teacher training, providing wholesome school meals, nurse training and water provision.

They are also working hard to minimise their impact on the environment.

For instance, EABL has invested Sh22 billion in a plan to shift to renewable energy at their brewery in Kisumu; while Unilever produces 70 per cent of the power they use on site at their tea plantation in Kericho through a combination of solar and hydropower.

FINANCIAL GATEWAY

I am committed to supporting the flow of more high-quality British investment into Kenya. More British businesses are setting up here every year, and the summit will help the number to grow.

But the summit is not just about showcasing Kenya and encouraging more British businesses to invest in Africa.

It is also an opportunity to build partnerships and generate more private sector investment into Kenyan companies at various stages of growth.

The UK has a lot to offer ambitious African firms and a strong reputation for quality, integrity and reliability.

Home to the world’s major investors, regulators, innovators and multinational businesses, the City of London is the global financial gateway for investment and expertise.

Greater engagement and investment from the city could be transformative; the summit will connect businesses and investors, building future partnerships.

POLITICAL GOODWILL

Realising the ambition behind the summit — an enhanced investment relationship between the UK and African nations — also requires commitment and action by governments.

The UK government is working in partnership with Kenya to create the right business environment for increased investment — including in support of the ‘Big Four Agenda’.

UK’s Trademark East Africa programme has supported the development of more efficient and higher-quality roads and ports, making it easier to move goods around the region.

Also, our 10-year Invest Africa programme is working to generate more foreign direct investment (FDI) into the manufacturing sector, to create jobs in growth areas such as garment factories and raise billions in new manufacturing investment.

Through our Sustainable Urban Economic Development programme, we are also working with the national and county governments to create the right conditions for increased investment into 19 cities across Kenya.

FOREIGN INVESTMENT

We are also supporting entrepreneurs and innovators to grow their companies and become investor-ready.

Through our UKAid programmes, we are supporting research and innovation, helping entrepreneurs to take their businesses to the next level, and supporting an ecosystem here which gains strength from diversity and partnerships, enables scale-up of good business ideas and attracts investment.

Monday’s summit is a milestone for UK-Kenya relations and an example of the modern strategic partnership between us.

We believe a strong, diverse private sector is key to unlocking Kenya’s economic potential and creating the jobs and opportunities Kenyans want.

When we take some of Kenya’s brightest and best entrepreneurs to London, they will get an opportunity to showcase how they are developing local solutions for local challenges.

Foreign investment will help to realise that vision, and we commit to working with Kenya to attract it.

Ms Marriott is the British High Commissioner to Kenya. @JaneMarriott

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