Kenya : Gateway To Africa
The promotion of investment, trade and tourism are the major concerns of the Kenyan Embassy in the United Arab Emirates. It is for this reason that I welcome the decision by the Editor of this distinguished publication, which specialises in matters of investment, trade and industry, to focus on Kenya-UAE trade relations in its current issue.
Kenya has indeed become an increasingly important trading partner for the United Arab Emirates. In addition to being the major supplier of oil to Kenya, the UAE has emerged as a favoured shopping destination to which Kenyans travel regularly to purchase household and office electronic appliances, automobile spare parts and motor vehicles.
While exact figures are not yet available, it is reasonable to estimate that bi-lateral trade last year was in the region of US$700,000. However, most of this is accounted for by Kenya’s imports from the United Arab Emirates. It is a challenge that Kenyan businessmen will need to tackle if they are to substantially reduce this unfavourable trade balance.
There are several investment opportunities in Kenya which businessmen from the UAE can take advantage of. In the agricultural sectors, there is a lot of potential in the horticultural, agro-processing, leather and livestock sectors. Kenya also prides herself with a very competitive manufacturing sector which includes paper production, textiles and apparel manufacturing, metal engineering and motor vehicle assembly.
Kenya’s tourism industry is one of the most advanced in the region boosted by a good infrastructure system. I urge more UAE nationals to take advantage of the beautiful Kenyan scenery and wildlife and tour our country.
To encourage investment in the country the Kenya government has carried out key economic reforms which have resulted in a fully liberalised economy. Some of these reforms include:
1) Abolishing export and import licencing 2) Rationalising and reducing export duties; 3) Freeing of the Kenya Shilling exchange rate to be determined by the market; 4) Removing restrictions on domestic borrowing by foreign-owned companies; 5) And removing price controls.
These are only some of the basic reforms by the government which has also assured capital repatriation and remittance of dividends and interests to foreign investors. The Kenya constitution also provides a guarantee against expropriation of private property. I would thus encourage UAE businessmen to carry out trade visits to Kenya to establish, invest or have joint ventures with Kenyans. The Kenya government is committed to the political and economic reform process leading to sound economic policies and principles.
The outlook for the future is even more encouraging as Kenya prepares to face the new millennium with renewed vigour and enthusiasm. The President has taken personal interest in these reforms to the extent of personally chairing the Presidential Economic Commission on Economic Reforms.
Finally the launch of the East African Co-operation Treaty has created a common market of 80 million people providing an attractive potential for commerce and industry not only in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania but the whole of the Great Lakes region. Together with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the recently reinvigorated Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, a dynamic market of nearly 400 million people provides unlimited opportunities for the potential investor in Kenya. I welcome you to Kenya - the land of contrasts!
- H.E. Chirau Ali Mwakwere
Ambassador of Kenya (Former)
Embassy of the Republic of Kenya, Abu Dhabi