Kenya woos Irish investors with better business terms

Education CS Fred Matiang’i (left) with Ireland’s Minister of State for the Diaspora and Overseas Development Aid, Mr Joe McHugh, in Nairobi. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO

What you need to know:

  • Mobile money, free foreign exchange transfers, SGR, Mombasa Port and JKIA cited as key attractions to foreign investors.

Quality financial transactions with rapid expansion of mobile money transfer services have been cited as key benefits for Irish businesses in Kenya.

The Business Ireland Kenya Guide to Doing Business (BIK) launched this week in Nairobi also identified free foreign exchange transfers and protection of international investment through the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency as other benefits.

“This guide aims to give Irish businesses planning to explore investment opportunities in Kenya a first glance at the economic landscape,” said Mr Joe McHugh, Ireland’s Minister of State for the Diaspora and International Development.

It provides coverage of Kenya’s political and economic environment with guidelines on the legal and cultural aspects of setting up a business in Kenya.

Mr McHugh said investing in Kenya provides access to the larger regional market of the East African Community, with its population of 150 million customers and a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of 135 billion Euros.

Mr McHugh had hosted a roundtable discussion on strengthening Ireland-Kenya links in agri-business.

Ireland also considers Kenya the gateway to the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa), which has a population of over 400 million people and a combined GDP of 334 billion Euros.

Kenyan exports enjoy preferential access to key international markets through instruments such as the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa), the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the EAC-EU Trade Agreement.

“Secure financial systems and a well-developed banking sector,” the business guide notes, are other benefits Kenya offers Irish businesses.
Kenya-Ireland trade totalled 106 million Euros this year.

The value of Irish exports to Kenya increased to 63 million Euros in the same period.

This has been driven mostly by transport and infrastructure equipment and services.

Kenya’s exports to Ireland rose significantly to reach 43 million Euros in 2015, mostly with trade in flowers, fruits, vegetables, tea and coffee.

The guide further states that the on-going infrastructural developments — including the standard gauge railway (SGR), which is expected to cut freight costs by two-thirds from 0.18 Euros to 0.07 Euros per ton per kilometre when complete next year — will attract more investments from Ireland.

Other benefits of Kenya for Irish businesses include Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, which has many direct flights to more than 50 destinations worldwide, and in excess of 400,000 tonnes of air cargo. The Port of Mombasa, East Africa’s largest, is another attraction.

Also, Kenya has one of Africa’s largest and youngest well-educated, skilled and motivated workforce. This could attract more Irish investments.

The guide further notes that the country has strong domestic legal frameworks that protect international investors and is signatory to the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes.

This year, Ernst & Young ranked Kenya second in sub-Saharan Africa, due to strong growth, improved infrastructure and an enabling business environment.

And 71 foreign companies with a combined capital expenditure of 2.3 billion Euros invested in Kenya in 2015, more than ever before, according to Greenfield Investment Monitor FDI Markets.

In its Doing Business 2017 Report, the World Bank rated Kenya among the 10 best improved countries after it rose 44 ranks in just two years following regulatory reforms.

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