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Economy

7 Chinese traders in Gikomba now kicked out of the country

Moses Ikiara
Kenya Investment Authority chief executive Moses Ikiara. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Interior Secretary Fred Matiang’i has deported seven Chinese nationals found trading illegally in Gikomba market after an exclusive Business Daily story.

The story revealed the presence of Chinese merchants in the Kenya’s biggest second-hand clothes market.

The CS Thursday made good his Wednesday promise to deport any foreigners found engaging in small scale businesses in down town Nairobi after locals decried stiff competition in retail businesses located in Gikomba, Kamukunji and Nyamakima markets, which are key entry points for second-hand clothes and cheap Chinese electronic and kitchenware imports.

“Foreigners suspected to have been illegally engaging in business in Kenya were arrested yesterday during a raid on Gikomba. Seven Chinese nationals were found to have flouted immigration rules. Officers established that three of them had no valid work permits while the other four have been engaging in employment and other income generating activities unauthorised under their respective work permit classes,”read a statement from the Interior ministry.

“Consequently, the Cabinet Secretary in charge of immigration has signed deportation orders as recommended by law.”

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Kenya’s lax immigration laws, including the relatively low Sh10 million threshold set for foreigners coming into the country, offers easy access to investment certificates that non-nationals use to set up businesses locally.

The Investment Promotion Act 2004 requires that foreign investment must be beneficial to the country in promoting acquisition of new skills and promoting use of local resources.

“An applicant shall be entitled to an investment certificate if— the amount to be invested by a foreign investor is at least one hundred thousand United States of America dollars or the equivalent in any currency; creates employment for Kenyans, leads to acquisition of new skills or technology for Kenyans or a transfer of technology to Kenya and any other factors that the Authority considers beneficial to Kenya,” says Section 4 of the Act.

The Chinese in Gikomba employ Chinese staff to carry out tasks like recording sales.

while hiring Kenyans to ferry goods using carts.

In an interview Wednesday, Kenya Investment Authority chief executive Moses Ikiara said a review of the minimum amount that foreign investors must have to get an investment certificate is already under way.

“We are implementing the Kenya Investment Policy that was recently approved by the Cabinet and part of the plan is to set different minimums in each sector that a foreign investor must have to be allowed to set up shop in the country because the current blanket requirement of Sh10 million may be too little especially in heavy capital sectors like real estate. We will also ensure that certain sectors are just reserved for locals so that we protect them,” said Dr Ikiara.

The Chinese in Gikomba largely sell second-hand clothes, carpets and shoes sourced from China and stored in godowns located in Industrial Area and along Mombasa Road.

In Nyamakima and Kamukunji, they supply and retail electric cables, utensils and toys among other products that they import in bulk.

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