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Kenya Showcasing her projects in Washington D.C
With determination to attract investors and eager American companies ready to accord them audience, Kenyan delegates to the US-Africa business summit in Washington, D.C have hit the ground running to showcase investable projects back home. The two-day summit organized by the United States Corporate Council on Africa has brought together American companies and African technocrats to brainstorm on investment opportunities in the continent.
American companies in the transport, energy, aviation, railway and information technology sectors trooped to the summit with the hope of clinching business deals. There were no disappointments. At hand to handle the business at hand were Transport Permanent Secretary, Cyrus Njiru and director general, Kenya Vision 2030, Mugo Kibati.
“There is renewed interest and an opportune time for America to do business with Africa,” the chairman and chief executive officer of American Corporate Council on Africa, Stephen Hayes echoed the sentiments of many summit participants. Speaking during one of the summit workshops, Njiru said that African governments have resolved to collaborate in the development of transport infrastructure projects. The PS explained that the leadership in Africa has set its sights on key transport and economic corridors to enhance connectivity in the continent.
“By thinking big, African Governments intends to overcome bottlenecks to trade, business and mobility not only among themselves, but also between them and the outside world,” Njiru noted. He added that a summit of head of governments and states that was held in Kampala in 2008, laid the groundwork for common approach to development in Africa.
The PS informed the summit that recently the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the East African Community (EAC), the Southern Africa Development Authority (SADC) in partnership with the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) hosted an infrastructure investment conference in Nairobi.
"The objective of the conference was to woe investors to finance transport corridors in Africa,” he added. The PS noted that major transport and other projects in Africa would be implemented by a mix of both public and private sector financing. The PS cited Berbera-Central-Dar-es-Salaam, Beira-Durban, Djibouti-Walvis Bay and Lamu-Douala transport corridors as crucial to Africa’s economic and political integration.
He said that developing the corridors would open up the continent to markets, labour and exploitable raw materials. He explained that this would be good for industry, business, tourism and agriculture.
Njiru rooted for development of seamless transport corridors as enablers for faster economic growth for African countries. He decried the high cost of transport, which at 11.5% on the value of imports in Africa is highest in the world compared to 6.7% and 7.2% in North America and Asia respectively. The PS welcomed American companies to invest in transport infrastructure projects, which have the potential to transform the continent into an economic power house. He assured the investors that Kenya has finalized feasibility studies on the second transport and economic corridor from Lamu to South Sudan and Ethiopia.
He told American companies to invest in the seven project components that make up the second transport corridor assuring them that studies have revealed that the projects are financially and economically viable.
Kibati assured American companies that Kenya was actively seeking ways to boost energy by diversifying her electricity generation sources. “Kenya is currently exploiting geothermal and wind energies to step up the national grid,” Kibati said.
Kibati urged American companies to also invest in energy generation venture in Kenya since the country’s energy deficit needs to be bridged.
The Vision 2030, CEO assured American companies that the government has put in place the necessary legal frameworks to enable investors reap good returns for their investments.
Nevertheless, he decried the “thin’ presence of American companies on the ground noting that, this must change now that the potential for investment in Kenya under Vision 2030 and common infrastructure projects in Africa is huge.