Investors yesterday called on the government to fast-track establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZ) to attract multinationals seeking to make Nairobi their African hub.
Knight Frank Africa chairman Peter Welborn and Broll Kenya managing director, Peter Small, and his Africa Logistics counterpart Toby Selman said Kenya was poised to reap economic benefits if it lured multinationals to establish industries and warehouses as well as regional headquarters.
Speaking during a panel discussion on the sidelines of the two-day East Africa Property Investment (EAPI) in Nairobi, Mr Welborn observed that Kenya was strategically located to play an important role as East, Central and West Africa’s hub.
“The instability in Egypt has provided Kenya with an unrivalled opportunity to lure foreign direct investments in Grade A warehouses and offices that enable multinationals to run their affairs from Nairobi to feed goods and other services to their subsidiaries located across Africa,” he said.
In his report dubbed Kenya, Retail Office and Industrial Market Report, 2017, Mr Small said Kenya needs to move fast to establish SEZ where Kenyans will get jobs in multinational companies targeting manufacturing for export across Africa and beyond.
“Kenya is soon inaugurating a modern Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) that guarantees efficiency in movement of imported raw materials and export of finished products. This creates a new demand for SEZ, Grade A warehouses as well as offices,” he said.
The panel discussion agreed that continued improvement of roads, railway and improved energy supply could see investors sink billions of shillings in projects located in second-tier cities away from Nairobi.
Mr Selman said his investment vehicle had invested Sh 10 billion in constructing a modern logistics hub at Tatu City and another at Tilisi Park within Kiambu County with a view to cashing in on the expected influx of multinationals now setting camp in Kenya.
“Grade A warehouses go beyond storage to offer multinationals an operations hub that ensures stored goods arrive at their destination on time and in the right form thereby enabling multinationals to concentrate on product development,” he said.
The EAPI has attracted 450 participants drawn from globally acclaimed construction, banking, investment, hospitality, logistics, real-estate and insurance companies among others.